“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Obama's Washington appears weak, rudderless, confused and navel-gazing

Do tyrants fear America anymore? President Obama’s timid foreign policy is an embarrassment for a global superpower

The d├ębacle of Washington’s handling of the Libya issue is symbolic of a wider problem at the heart of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The fact that it took ten days and at least a thousand dead on the streets of Libya’s cities before President Obama finally mustered the courage to call for Muammar “mad dog” Gaddafi to step down is highly embarrassing for the world’s only superpower, and emblematic of a deer-in-the-headlights approach to world leadership. Washington seems incapable of decisive decision-making on foreign policy at the moment, a far cry from the days when it swept entire regimes from power, and defeated America’s enemies with deep-seated conviction and an unshakeable drive for victory.

Just a few years ago the United States was genuinely feared on the world stage, and dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state sponsors of terror trod carefully in the face of the world’s most powerful nation. Now Washington appears weak, rudderless and frequently confused in its approach. From Tehran to Tripoli, the Obama administration has been pathetically slow to lead, and afraid to condemn acts of state-sponsored repression and violence. When protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamist dictatorship in Iran in 2009, the brutal repression that greeted them was hardly a blip on Barack Obama’s teleprompter screen, barely meriting a response from a largely silent presidency.

In contrast to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, President Obama fails to see the United States as an exceptional nation, with a unique role in leading the free world and standing up to tyranny. In his speeches abroad he has frequently found fault with his own country, rather than projecting confidence in American greatness. From Cairo to Strasbourg he has adopted an apologetic tone rather than demonstrating faith in America as a shining city upon a hill, a beacon of freedom and liberty. A leader who lacks pride in his own nation’s historic role as a great liberator simply cannot project strength abroad.

It has also become abundantly clear that the Obama team attaches little importance to human rights issues, and in contrast to the previous administration has not pursued a freedom agenda in the Middle East and elsewhere. It places far greater value upon engagement with hostile regimes, even if they are carrying out gross human rights abuses, in the mistaken belief that appeasement enhances security. This has been the case with Iran, Russia and North Korea for example. This administration has also been all too willing to sacrifice US leadership in deference to supranational institutions such as the United Nations, whose track record in standing up to dictatorships has been virtually non-existent.

The White House’s painful navel-gazing on Libya last week, with even the French adopting a far tougher stance, is cause for grave concern. The Obama administration’s timid approach to foreign policy is the last thing the world needs at a time of mounting turmoil in the Middle East, including the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and Islamist militancy on the rise from Egypt to Yemen. US leadership is now needed more than ever, but has embarrassingly gone AWOL on the world stage.

Frank Buckles,"Last man standing" Among "The Doughboys" Dies

Last U.S. World War I veteran dies

By Paul Courson, CNN
February 28, 2011 1:40 a.m. EST

Washington (CNN) -- Frank Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Buckles "died peacefully in his home of natural causes" early Sunday morning, the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.
Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1, but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what became known as the "Great War," rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended. He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the "last man standing" among U.S. troops who were called "The Doughboys."

DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, alongside memorials for veterans of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

Buckles made history when he was asked to testify in Congress on the matter before a House committee on December 3, 2009.

"I have to," he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow-veterans.

Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship's officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.
Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial. During a visit to the run-down, neglected site a few years ago, he went past the nearby World War II memorial without stopping, even as younger veterans stopped and saluted the old soldier in his wheelchair as he went by.

Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.
Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.

Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.

"It has long been my father's wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General Pershing," Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

"I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass," she said.
In addition to graveside ceremonies, a proposal from U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, calls for a memorial in the U.S. Capitol, where Buckles' casket would be displayed with honors.

Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington at the grave of Gen. John Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I.
He also had met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

"The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States," Gates said at the time. "There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in."

Buckles' family asks that donations be made to the National World War I Legacy Project to honor Frank Buckles and the 4,734,991 Americans that he served with during World War I. Details can be found at:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

China is Frightened of People Demonstrating

Heavy-handed reaction to China's 'Jasmine' protests

Chinese police and plain-clothes agents barricaded one of Beijing's main pedestrian shopping streets on Sunday in response to calls for a "Jasmine revolution".


Protest organisers had called for ordinary citizens to "take a stroll" yesterday at 23 sites across China, often busy areas in city centres, to express their displeasure at the country's lack of political reform.

"We invite every participant to stroll, watch or even just pretend to pass by," said a letter published on Boxun, a foreign-based website that is banned in China. "As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear". It was the second weekend in a row that protests were planned.

But while there was little response to the call from the public, with at most a few hundred people milling around in Shanghai, the Chinese government has taken the threat extremely seriously.

In Beijing, the Wangfujing pedestrianised shopping street was occupied by squads of policemen with dogs, plain-clothes officers, and members of the People's Armed Police, a division of the army.

The local branch of McDonald's, the meeting point designated by the organisers of the protest, was shut down, with customers briefly locked inside.

Outside, street-cleaning trucks doused the street with water, which sent passers-by scrambling. The authorities closed off some of the street with blue construction site barriers, and harassed a number of journalists.

Reporters in Beijing have now been warned not to conduct interviews in the capital without prior permission. Broadcasts by CNN and the BBC have been blocked, and reporters from the BBC were bundled into a van by police and driven away from Wangfujing.

A number of human rights activists have been charged with "inciting subversion", a serious crime that can carry a hefty jail sentence. Ran Yunfei, Chen Wei and Ding Mao in Sichuan have all been arrested, as have Hua Chunhui in Jiangsu and Liang Haiyi in Harbin, according to Human Rights in China, a Non Government Organisation.

Moammar Gadhafi is about to have his Ceausescu execution moment.

Zawiya, Libya (CNN) -- Anti-government protesters took to the streets Sunday in Libya's western city of Zawiya -- including former security forces who said they have switched sides and joined the opposition.

Some buildings showed signs of damage, including a freshly burnt-out police station.
At least several Libyan cities are now in the control of the opposition, including Zawiya, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) from the capital city of Tripoli.
Leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime clings to power in Tripoli after weeks of protests.
About 100,000 people have fled violence in Libya in the past week, reports suggest…

...Gadhafi's son, Saif, told CNN's Nic Robertson Sunday he was confident the regime could survive the unrest and ultimately reunite Libya.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi -- a prominent member of the government -- added that he wanted this reunification to be accomplished without violence.

On Saturday night, the United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 on a draft resolution that includes an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel bans for Gadhafi and several of his family members and associates. The draft resolution also refers the situation unfolding in Libya to the International Criminal Court, and Gadhafi and others could face an investigation for potential war crimes.

"This resolution will be a signal (to) put an end to the fascist regime that is still in existence," said Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Libyan ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier Saturday, he renounced support for Gadhafi, calling him "a leader who loves nobody but himself."

Entire article here.

A New Kurdish War

Policeman killed in Iraq Kurd anti-govt protest: mayor
By Shwan Mohammed (AFP) – 4 days ago
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — Anti-government protests in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja on Wednesday left a policeman dead as a result of gunshot wounds and another injured, the town's mayor and a doctor said.

Several hundred demonstrators had been marching to the offices of Halabja mayor Goran Adhem when shots were fired, although both sides offered differing accounts of how the fatality occurred.

"The demonstrators shot and killed a policeman and wounded another," Adhem said. He added that protesters attempted to march to his office but, before arriving, opened fire.

Adhem said that authorities had "video of demonstrators carrying guns" and claimed that protesters were not from the Kurdish town, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the Iraqi autonomous region's second-biggest city Sulaimaniyah, but instead were of Arab origin.

But protesters, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest, insisted that no one at their rally was carrying weapons. They said that police fired into the air and the casualties were caused when the bullets fell downwards.

A journalist for the independent Kurdish weekly Awene said that demonstrators had assembled at around 2:00 pm (1100 GMT) at Hurriyah Square in the centre of Halabja before moving towards the mayor's office.

"I heard gunshots, I don't know where they came from, and I ran away," the journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A medical official at Halabja hospital, who did not want to be named, said one policeman was killed and five people were wounded, including four civilians who suffered bruises.

A rally in the town a day earlier left 32 police wounded after protesters threw stones at security forces, Adhem said.

The policeman's death was the fourth in Kurdistan since Thursday when thousands have hit the streets of Sulaimaniyah and Halabja to demand an end to the dominance of two parties that have lorded over Kurdistan for decades.

In Sulaimaniyah on Wednesday, around 3,000 demonstrators, some carrying pictures of people killed in previous rallies, railed against the region's leadership.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of regional president Massud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani have jointly ruled the region for decades.

Meanwhile, near the southern city of Nasiriyah, 15 people were wounded -- 11 police and four protesters -- as a result of clashes that broke out from rallies.
The 200-odd demonstrators had been railing against poor public services and corruption and began throwing stones at security forces, sparking the clashes, Fuhud town Mayor Zaki al-Ameri said. He added that 18 people were arrested.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rand Paul vs. the Vacuous David Letterman

Rand Paul vs. David Letterman

Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was on David Letterman last night, talking about wearing jeans on TV, being mentored by Al Franken, the difference between Tea Party and the GOP, the dangers of government debt, shrinking the public sector and growing the private sector, whether tax cuts hurt the middle class, and whether we can solve our public problems by taxing the rich.
Thomas Woods on where Sen. Paul is right and the talk show host and his audience are wrong. Some examples:
Rand correctly noted that the top 1% of income tax earners pay one-third of all the income taxes, with the top 50% paying 96%.  So the "rich" are already paying plenty.  Letterman's response? There must be something wrong with those numbers, he said to applause from the audience.  So the audience is in effect saying, "We also refuse to believe those numbers!"  But those numbers are correct....
Rand explains, again correctly, that spending more money on education has not improved educational outcomes.  Letterman's response?  Well, education is important, so we've got to try something -- how about spending more money?  But by the time of George W. Bush's term, per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, had already doubled since LBJ....
Letterman wonders why we can't just loot the "rich" some more.  Well, if we'd like to make still more firms leave the U.S., that'd be a good start.  Want to strangle the growth on which everyone's welfare depends?  By all means pursue this strategy....
Rand points out, correctly, that the compensation package for Wisconsin teachers is extremely attractive, amounting to over $80K annually.  Letterman, to general applause, says that figure should be doubled.  Isn't education important?  This is the level of reasoning people appear comfortable with.  On Big Rock Candy Mountain there's a giant pile of cash overlooked by the governor and the rest of us. Don't worry that the pension systems are going to bankrupt the states -- that's nothing a doubling of teacher salaries won't solve.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Great Moments on Live TV.

Lewis & Clark and Their Air Gun, The Girandoni Rifle

Peace Through Superior Firepower

The Unravelling of American Empire in Arabia

How will America handle the fall of its Middle East empire?

By Peter Oborne Last updated: February 24th, 2011


"2011 will mark the removal of many of America’s client regimes in the Arab world. It is highly unlikely, however, that events will thereafter take the tidy path the White House would prefer. Far from being inspired by Twitter, a great many of Arab people who have driven the sensational events of recent weeks are illiterate. They have been impelled into action by mass poverty and unemployment, allied to a sense of disgust at vast divergences of wealth and grotesque corruption."

Empires can collapse in the course of a generation. At the end of the 16th century, the Spanish looked dominant. Twenty-five years later, they were on their knees, over-extended, bankrupt, and incapable of coping with the emergent maritime powers of Britain and Holland. The British empire reached its fullest extent in 1930. Twenty years later, it was all over.

Today, it is reasonable to ask whether the United States, seemingly invincible a decade ago, will follow the same trajectory. America has suffered two convulsive blows in the last three years. The first was the financial crisis of 2008, whose consequences are yet to be properly felt. Although the immediate cause was the debacle in the mortgage market, the underlying problem was chronic imbalance in the economy.

For a number of years, America has been incapable of funding its domestic programmes and overseas commitments without resorting to massive help from China, its global rival. China has a pressing motive to assist: it needs to sustain US demand in order to provide a market for its exports and thus avert an economic crisis of its own. This situation is the contemporary equivalent of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the doctrine which prevented nuclear war breaking out between America and Russia.
Unlike MAD, this pact is unsustainable. But Barack Obama has not sought to address the problem. Instead, he responded to the crisis with the same failed policies that caused the trouble in the first place: easy credit and yet more debt. It is certain that America will, in due course, be forced into a massive adjustment both to its living standards at home and its commitments abroad.

This matters because, following the second convulsive blow, America’s global interests are under threat on a scale never before seen. Since 1956, when Secretary of State John Foster Dulles pulled the plug on Britain and France over Suez, the Arab world has been a US domain. At first, there were promises that it would tolerate independence and self-determination. But this did not last long; America chose to govern through brutal and corrupt dictators, supplied with arms, military training and advice from Washington.

The momentous importance of the last few weeks is that this profitable, though morally bankrupt, arrangement appears to be coming to an end. One of the choicest ironies of the bloody and macabre death throes of the regime in Libya is that Colonel Gaddafi would have been wiser to have stayed out of the US sphere of influence. When he joined forces with George Bush and Tony Blair five years ago, the ageing dictator was leaping on to a bandwagon that was about to grind to a halt.
In Washington, President Obama has not been stressing this aspect of affairs. Instead, after hesitation, he has presented the recent uprisings as democratic and even pro-American, indeed a triumph for the latest methods of Western communication such as Twitter and Facebook. Many sympathetic commentators have therefore claimed that the Arab revolutions bear comparison with the 1989 uprising of the peoples of Eastern Europe against Soviet tyranny.

I would guess that the analogy is apt. Just as 1989 saw the collapse of the Russian empire in Eastern Europe, so it now looks as if 2011 will mark the removal of many of America’s client regimes in the Arab world. It is highly unlikely, however, that events will thereafter take the tidy path the White House would prefer. Far from being inspired by Twitter, a great many of Arab people who have driven the sensational events of recent weeks are illiterate. They have been impelled into action by mass poverty and unemployment, allied to a sense of disgust at vast divergences of wealth and grotesque corruption. It is too early to chart the future course of events with confidence, but it seems unlikely that these liberated peoples will look to Washington and New York as their political or economic model.
The great question is whether America will take its diminished status gracefully, or whether it will lash out, as empires in trouble are historically prone to do. Here the White House response gives cause for concern. American insensitivity is well demonstrated in the case of Raymond Davis, the CIA man who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore. Hillary Clinton is trying to bully Pakistan into awarding Davis diplomatic immunity. This is incredible behaviour, which shows that the US continues to regard itself as above the law. Were President Zardari, already seen by his fellow countrymen as a pro-American stooge, to comply, his government would almost certainly fall.

Or take President Obama’s decision last week to veto the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Even America itself accepts that these settlements are illegal. At a time when the Middle East is already mutinous, this course of action looks mad.

The biggest problem is that America wants democracy, but only on its own terms. A very good example of this concerns the election of a Hamas government in Gaza in 2006. This should have been a hopeful moment for the Middle East peace process: the election of a government with the legitimacy and power to end violence. But America refused to engage with Hamas, just as it has refused to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or to acknowledge the well-founded regional aspirations of Iran.

The history of the Arab world since the collapse of the Ottoman caliphate in 1922 can be divided schematically into two periods: open colonial rule under the British and French, followed by America’s invisible empire after the Second World War. Now we are entering a third epoch, when Arab nations, and in due course others, will assert their independence. It is highly unlikely that all of them will choose a path that the Americans want. From the evidence available, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are muddled and incapable of grasping the nature of current events.
This is where the British, who have deep historical connections with the region, and whose own loss of empire is still within living memory, ought to be able to offer wise and practical advice. So far the Prime Minister, a neophyte in foreign affairs, has not done so. His regional tour of Middle Eastern capitals with a caravan of arms dealers made sense only in terms of the broken settlement of the last 50 years. His speeches might have been scripted by Tony Blair a decade ago, with the identical evasions and hypocrisies. There was no acknowledgment of the great paradigm shift in global politics.

The links between the US and British defence, security and foreign policy establishments are so close that perhaps it is no longer possible for any British government to act independently. When challenged, our ministers always say that we use our influence “behind the scenes” with American allies, rather than challenge them in the open. But this, too, is a failed tactic. I am told, for example, that William Hague tried hard to persuade Hillary Clinton not to veto last week’s Security Council resolution, but was ignored. It is time we became a much more candid friend, because the world is changing faster than we know.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Barack Hussein Obama feeding the Flames in Wisconsin

February 22, 2011
Obama Fights Taxpayer, Backs Union Allies
By Pat Buchanan

As a large and furious demonstration was under way outside and inside the Capitol in Madison last week, Barack Obama invited in a TV camera crew from Milwaukee and proceeded to fan the flames.
Dropping the mask of The Great Compromiser, Obama reverted to his role as South Chicago community organizer, charging Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature with an "assault on unions."
As the late Saul Alinsky admonished in his "Rules for Radicals," "the community organizer ... must first rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression."
After Obama goaded the demonstrators, the protests swelled. All 14 Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to paralyze the upper chamber by denying it a quorum. Teachers went on strike, left kids in the classroom and came to Madison. Schools shut down.
Jesse Jackson arrived. The White House political machine went into overdrive to sustain the crowds in Madison and other capitals and use street pressure to break governments seeking to peel back the pay, perks, privileges and power of public employee unions that are the taxpayer-subsidized armies of the Democratic Party.
Marin County millionairess Nancy Pelosi, doing a poor imitation of Emma Goldman, announced, "I stand in solidarity with the Wisconsin workers fighting for their rights, especially for all the students and young people leading the charge."
Is this not the same lady who called Tea Partiers "un-American" for "drowning out opposing views"? Is not drowning out opposing views exactly what those scores of thousands are doing in Madison, banging drums inside the state Capitol?
Some carried signs comparing Walker to Hitler, Mussolini and Mubarak. One had a placard with the face of Walker in the cross hairs of a rifle sight. Major media seemed uninterested. These signs didn't comport with their script.
In related street action, protesters, outraged over Congress' oversight of the D.C. budget, showed up at John Boehner's residence on Capitol Hill to abuse the speaker at his home.
And so the great battle of this generation is engaged.
Between now and 2013, the states are facing a total budget shortfall of $175 billion. To solve it, they are taking separate paths.
Illinois voted to raise taxes by two-thirds and borrow $12 billion more, $8.5 billion of it to pay overdue bills. The Republican minority fought this approach, but was outvoted and accepted defeat.
Wisconsin, however, where Republicans captured both houses and the governor's office in November, and which is facing a deficit of $3.6 billion over the next two years, has chosen to cut spending.
Walker and the legislature want to require state employees, except police, firemen and troopers, to contribute half of their future pension benefits and up to 12.6 percent of health care premiums.
Wisconsin state workers and teachers enjoy the most generous benefits of state employees anywhere in America. According to the MacIver Institute, the average teacher in the Milwaukee public schools earns $100,000 a year -- $56,000 in pay, $44,000 in benefits -- and enjoys job security.
More controversially, Walker would end collective bargaining for benefits while retaining it for salaries and wage hikes up to annual inflation. This would ease the burden on local governments and school districts faced with the same budget crisis but less able to stand up to large and powerful government unions.
Other new governors like John Kasich of Ohio are looking at the Wisconsin approach to save their states from bankruptcy. They, too, are now facing massive street protests instigated by Obama and orchestrated by his agents operating out of the DNC.
The Battle of Madison, where Obama, Pelosi, the AFL-CIO, Jackson, the teachers unions and the Alinskyite left are refusing to accept the results of the 2010 election and taking to the streets to break state governments, is shaping up as the first engagement in the Battle for America. What will be decided?
Can the states, with new governments elected by the people, roll back government to prevent a default? Or will the states be forced by street protests, work stoppages by legislators, and strikes by state employees and teachers to betray the people who elected them? Will they be forced to raise taxes ad infinitum to feed the government's insatiable appetite for tax dollars?
In short, does democracy work anymore in America?
What Obama has done will come back to haunt him. He has encouraged if not incited an angry and alienated left that lost the country in a free election to overturn the results of that election by street protests and invasions of state capitols.
As the huge antiwar demonstrations in the 1960s broke the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and sought to break the presidency of Richard Nixon, Obama and his cohorts are out to break Wisconsin.
One hopes the people of Wisconsin will stand up to this extortion being carried on with the blessing of their own president.

Murder on the Streets of Libya-Libyan's begging for US Help

February 22, 2011

Where's Obama on Libya?

Rick Moran American Thinker

Yes, I understand that any statement from the president in support of the revolutionaries in Libya would be detrimental to their cause. Gaddafi would point to Obama's support as evidence that it isAmerica and the west who are behind the trouble.

So leave the revolutionaries out of it. How about using some of that famous rhetorical skill to gut Gaddafi for his murderous actions?

Surely if you can decry violence in America, you can damn well muster the outrage to condemn in the strongest possible language this wrenching tragedy unfolding in Libya. Helicopters are gunning people down in the streets and the best you can do is send a State Department flak out to mutter nonsensical diplomatese? We might expect this kind of behavior from a Libyan ally, not the leader of the free world.

The Libyan ambassador to the US is begging for a stronger statement from Obama:

"I want the U.S. to tell the world and to work with the countries who love peace...they have to stop this," Ambassador Ali Ojli said, suggesting that he had resigned his post, in an interview with Al Jazeera English.
"I would never ask us to intervene physically in Libya," he said, but called on the Obama Administration to "take a strong position that what's happening in libya must be stopped now...and to avoid giving the impression to the Arab world that the West "has only a materialist mind -- they don't care about human rights...except when it comes to their own interest."
"You see them raising their voices about iran ... because they have some interest in in Iran.... When it comes to other countries they don't raise their voice," he said, adding that the Arab and Muslim world won't "trust america or the west if they behave that way."
President Obama urged restraint in a written statement Friday on Libya and two other countries, but he hasn't appeared on television to talk about the crisis.
Did Obama take the weekend off? The revolutionaries in Libya didn't. While they were getting slaughtered in the streets of Benghazi, the First Lady was skiing the slopes in Vail while the president was busy sending his minions to Wisconsin to support public employee unions in their quest to bankrupt the state.
Perhaps we should have a lesson in priorities here. While Obama was urging his purple shirts onward, women and children were jumping off of bridges in Benghazi to escape hired goons from Chad who fired indiscriminately into the crowds. Doesn't that rate a trip to the press room and a call for all nations to condemn in the strongest possible terms this brutal, inhumane crackdown on unarmed people?
Want to know what is really and truly wrong with this president? He is passionless. His "cool" demeanor masks a lack of engagement with the world around him. His professorial mind never appears to get a shot of adrenaline or any other brain chemical that would animate his words, stir his soul, or demonstrate any emotion at all. We have yet to see any outrage from this man except when someone criticizes him.
He bollixed up Egypt but good. Now he's fiddling while Libya burns. I tremble to think of this man as president beyond 2012. We'll be lucky to avoid a war or suffer some kind ignominious foreign policy disaster.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Revolt in Libya

Navy PC: "firsts" for women...first female operations officer 1992…WWII & Viet Nam barely mentioned

Ex-pilots shoot down timeline of Navy

Slant seen on blacks, women

A foundation set up to celebrate Navy aviation's 100th birthday has disavowed an official history on its website, after former combat pilots complained of inaccuracies and political correctness.
As the first celebration commenced last month at a naval air base in California, a number of enraged former pilots began bombarding the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation with complaints. TheNavy views the commemoration with high regard, with celebrations planned at Navy and Marine Corps air stations from California to Florida.
The foundation's official history slide show featured four "firsts" for women, such as the first female operations officer in 1992. It also accentuated humanitarian missions. But it devoted only two slides to World War II and barely mentioned Vietnam, during which the Navyorchestrated a decade of multiple aircraft carrier operations.
"There is 'history' and then there is 'revisionist history' written to support a political agenda," said Roy Stafford, a former Marine attack aircraft pilot. "This timeline offered up the first female naval aviator and first female navy astronaut and first black Blue Angel pilot as major milestones and high-water marks for naval aviation to the exclusion of the real history makers. That just didn't sit well with my simple Marine Corps mind."
Mr. Stafford is among a group of retirees who wrote e-mails of protest that ended up in the foundation's lap.
"The true facts are that women's contribution to naval aviation has been minimal to nonexistent for 80 of the first 100 years," said Mr. Stafford. "The simple truth is they were not there, not World War I, not World War II, not Korea nor Vietnam. Men who pushed the limits of mankind to levels never before reached, to relegate them to footnote status while elevating the social agenda is a disservice to all who went before them."
The retired aviators' irate criticisms directed at the 100th anniversary foundation were tinged with surprise, since it is run by men like themselves.
One of them, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Bob Butcher, told The Washington Times that after reading the e-mailed complaints, he agreed with them and the timeline was taken off the website. A reporter found the timeline still posted at a foundation address:
Gen. Butcher, who is the 100th foundation's co-chairman, said the contested history was written by public affairs specialists. "It should not have actually been on the website," he said. "But it did frankly get up on the website. And, of course, people objected to it because it was certainly not an accurate depiction of the significant events of naval aviation."
Gen. Butcher, who is also chairman of the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum, said a new history is being written by the U.S. Navy's National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.
"There are some significant events that occurred in World War II that should be there," Gen. Butcher said.
The foundation's website features the slide show under the headline "The History of Naval Aviation" and a caption that invites visitors to "discover key events that helped shape the history of U.S. Naval Aviation."
It begins with the first shipboard landing on Jan. 18, 1911, in San Francisco Bay. The slides proceed through the early developmental phase to World War II, when Navy aviation played a pivotal role in the Pacific. The timeline mentions only two sea battles — Coral Sea and Midway, both in 1942. The only slide for the Korean War focuses on helicopters, not the first use of Navy jets. Air operations in Vietnam are not mentioned.
The slide show features, with photo portraits, the first female naval aviator, the first female line officer, the first Marine Corps female aviators and the first woman to command a squadron. The slides do not honor any particular male aviation pioneers.
A second, more-detailed history, called a "flipbook" slide show on the same Web page, does show several naval flying aces. But it provides few details on World War II and Korea and provides nothing on air combat in Vietnam. It mentions the Afghanistan War but not the Iraq War in 2003 when naval aviators flew hundreds of sorties. The flipbook highlights four female "firsts."
"My complaint about this 100th anniversary is not necessarily we celebrate the accomplishments or the firsts," said Jon Ault, a retired F-14 pilot who carried out more than 1,000 carrier landings. "But the fact they're excluding other very, very important events in naval aviation to be more politically correct in honoring blacks, females and what have you — come on. If you're going to do this thing, do it equally across the board."
Missing from the history is the story of Mr. Ault's father, the late Navy Capt. Frank W. Ault. AfterNavy and Air Force pilots performed poorly over North Vietnam, the elder Ault was tasked to find out why. His study led to the creation of the Top Gun fighter school later immortalized by Hollywood.
"All I'm saying is don't let the PC maniacs take charge of this evolution and stand there and do a year of celebration of just stuff that is PC and the media will suck up," Mr. Ault said.
A letter to the foundation from another retired flier said, "As a former Navy A-4 attack pilot with twoVietnam cruises, this whole current PC 'Cheerleading' Time Line on your website is nothing more than a Disney World silly symbolism and girlie-man PR stunt … nothing more. Worse, it's a basic slap in the face to the tens of thousands of Navy and Marine aviators who took enormous risks, gave their lives, and demonstrated enormous courage under daunting conditions to build what Naval Air has become today."
The foundation plans 34 celebrations nationwide throughout 2011, culminating in a "centennial closing gala" at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
Honorary board members include Neil Armstrong, a retired Navy captain and the first man to step onto the moon; former Sen. John Glenn, also a former astronaut; and actors Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall and Tom Hanks.

The Orcs Returns to the Streets of Iran

It begins again in Iran:

Iran 20 feb 2011 bassiji on motor bikes in streets of Tehran:

Iran Squelches Protest Attempt in Capital

Published: February 20, 2011

Antigovernment protesters gathered throughout parts of Iran on Sunday, most concentrated in the capital Tehran, to mark the deaths of two men killed during demonstrations last Monday. The government mounted a stultifying security presence in the capital, with the police making arrests and using tear gas to try to prevent the unrest from escalating.

Despite a steady rain, large crowds gathered intermittently throughout Tehran, from the main thoroughfare to city squares, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses.

The security forces seemed prepared for them, and in some locations, witnesses reported that police officers and baton-holding mercenaries outnumbered the protesters. There were reports of police officers firing on the crowds, although those could not be confirmed, because most foreign journalists were not allowed to report in Iran.

Opposition Web sites and witnesses said that ambulances were driven into the crowds. Security forces, including riot-control units on motorcycles, deployed tear gas to disperse crowds in several places, including near Valiasr Square and Vanak Square.

Plainclothes officers stopped and frisked people on the streets and removed people from vehicles, witnesses said.

Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, reported that the police arrested the daughter of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president and a central figure among traditional conservatives, for taking part in a banned opposition rally and shouting antigovernment slogans. She was later released, IRNA reported.

Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, also was detained during a protest in 2009.

On Saturday, the Iranian government warned people to stay away from the demonstrations. The Fars news agency reported that antigovernment protesters from Mujahedeen Khalq, an exiled opposition group that the government has accused of masterminding terrorist attacks in Iran from bases in Iraq and Europe, planned to fire weapons at the demonstrators.

The group’s hope, according to Fars, a semiofficial service linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was that this would incite security forces to also begin shooting at the crowds, to increase the divide between the government and the opposition.

It was unclear how many people joined the demonstrations in Tehran on Sunday. Witnesses estimated that more than 30,000 people protested on Feb. 14, and some opposition Web sites suggested there were close to one million people. Whatever the precise turnout, these were the largest opposition protests since the disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

One of the two major opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi, a former presidential candidate, was reported missing on Thursday. An aide confirmed on Sunday that Mr. Moussavi and his wife were under house arrest.

A black iron gate had been erected outside the Moussavis’ house, according to the BBC Persian service and Mr. Moussavi’s Web site, Kaleme. Supporters said they were not able to send in food directly to the family, because Mr. Moussavi’s personal bodyguards had been dismissed and the government security forces surrounding the house were now responsible for delivering their food.

Mr. Moussavi’s Facebook page cited news reports that he placed a telephone call to relatives, saying that he and Mehdi Karroubi, the opposition’s other primary leader, who is also under house arrest, were in good spirits.

Both opposition leaders had issued a call for nationwide protests on their Web sites, urging people to demonstrate on Sunday to honor the deaths of the two protesters last Monday.

The government, however, appeared to restrict the opposition’s online presence on Sunday. Mr. Karroubi’s Web site was shut down for a time. People in Iran said the Internet was working very slowly, that cellphone service was shut down in areas where people were demonstrating and that satellite television, including Persian BBC, was jammed.

On the streets of Tehran, the police appeared to be recruiting teenagers to quell the protests. Witnesses said they observed packs of young men armed with batons and wearing helmets and army fatigues.

A witness told the International Campaign for Human Rights that security forces on Mirdamad Street in Tehran used live ammunition against protesters, and one person was thought to have been killed there, but that could not be independently confirmed.

“There is gunfire, and crowds are running in the streets,” the witness told the international campaign’s Web site.

The protests and forceful security crackdowns were not limited to Tehran, but also took place in other major cities, including Mashad, Shiraz, Isfahan, Rasht and Tabriz. Witnesses also reported protests in Marewan, a province in the Kurdistan region.

The Kurds had called for a general strike after the death of Saneh Jaleh, a student who was one of the two men killed last Monday. Shops in Mahabad and Sanandaj were closed.

Even as the Fars news agency was reporting a warning on Saturday that the Mujahedeen Khalq planned to incite violence in Tehran, a number of former American officials intensified their efforts to have the group removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, because it has regularly supplied American spy agencies with information about Iran’s nuclear program. The organization has been on the list since 1997.