Friday, July 02, 2004

Further Idiocy From the U.S. Government

Here's another outrage from the idiots in Washington ...


New U.S.-Mexico Agreement on Social Security Benefits Is a Looming Threat to an Already Imperiled System, Warns FAIR

Millions of Bogus Social Security Accounts Pose Huge Potential Liability for American Workers and Retirees


(Washington, DC - July 1, 2004) An agreement signed on June 29 between the United States and Mexico that will allow retirees in Mexico to collect U.S. Social Security benefits could further imperil America's already fiscally unsound retirement system. The pact signed between the U.S. and Mexico would allow a limited number of Mexicans who have worked in the U.S. to collect benefits from the Social Security system, but given the Social Security Administration's (SSA) poor record-keeping and the potential for a massive illegal alien amnesty, the number of Mexicans collecting benefits could increase dramatically.

By the SSA's own admission, they do not know how many Social Security numbers are currently being used fraudulently. Moreover, under an amnesty/guest worker program proposed by President Bush, potentially millions more workers from Mexico and other countries would also qualify for Social Security benefits. Congress still has a 60-day period during which it may call for a vote and reject this agreement with Mexico.

"When it comes to immigration matters, the government invariably underestimates the costs and the numbers of people who will apply for any program or benefit," warned Dan Stein, executive director of FAIR. "What is billed as a limited program that will allow a relatively small number of people who have paid into the system to collect benefits will almost certainly turn into a feeding frenzy as lawyers line up clients who will claim benefits under the agreement. Until we straighten out the mess in our immigration system—not to mention our Social Security system—these sorts of agreements are premature and fiscally irresponsible," said Stein.

If Congress does not reject the agreement outright, passage of H.R. 1631, an amendment to the Social Security Act introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), must become a top legislative priority. Under H.R. 1631 any quarters worked in the U.S. illegally would not count toward eligibility for Social Security benefits. "With the President's proposal on the table, and even more irresponsible amnesty proposals that are likely if John Kerry is in the White House next year, it is important to establish a clear policy that time worked without authorization will not be rewarded with Social Security benefits," Stein said.

Barring quarters worked illegally will also preclude a bureaucratic nightmare of trying to sort out millions of potential claims by people using an assortment of valid and fraudulent Social Security numbers and aliases. "Our Social Security system is probably not going to be able to deliver on the promises it has made to current and future retirees. Even if was possible to sort out potential claims filed by millions of illegal aliens, the benefits paid to them would come directly out of the pockets of America's own elderly," warned Stein. "That is not only fiscally irresponsible, but politically volatile."

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Muslim Europe

Here's a sobering article from GAMLA http://www.gamla.org.il/english/index.htm


Daniel Pipes

‘Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam.” So declares Oriana Fallaci in her new book, “La Forza della Ragione,” or, “The Force of Reason.” And the famed Italian journalist is right: Christianity’s ancient stronghold of Europe is rapidly giving way to Islam. Two factors mainly contribute to this world-shaking development.


The hollowing out of Christianity. Europe is increasingly a post-Christian society, one with a diminishing connection to its tradition and its historic values. The numbers of believing, observant Christians has collapsed in the past two generations to the point that some observers call it the “new dark continent.” Already, analysts estimate Britain’s mosques host more worshippers each week than does the Church of England.

An anemic birth rate. Indigenous Europeans are dying out. Sustaining a population requires each woman on average to bear 2.1 children; in the European Union, the overall rate is one-third short, at 1.5 a woman, and falling. One study finds that, should current population trends continue and immigration cease, today’s population of 375 million could decline to 275 million by 2075.To keep its working population even, the E.U. needs 1.6 million immigrants a year; to sustain the present workers-to-retirees ratio requires an astonishing 13.5 million immigrants annually.
Into the void are coming Islam and Muslims. As Christianity falters, Islam is robust, assertive, and ambitious. As Europeans underreproduce at advanced ages, Muslims do so in large numbers while young.

Some 5% of the E.U., or nearly 20 million persons, presently identify themselves as Muslims; should current trends continue, that number will reach 10% by 2020. If non-Muslims flee the new Islamic order, as seems likely, the continent could be majority-Muslim within decades.

When that happens, grand cathedrals will appear as vestiges of a prior civilization — at least until a Saudistyle regime transforms them into mosques or a Taliban-like regime blows them up. The great national cultures — Italian, French, English, and others — will likely wither, replaced by a new transnational Muslim identity that merges North African, Turkish, subcontinental, and other elements. This prediction is hardly new. In 1968, the British politician Enoch Powell gave his famed “rivers of blood” speech in which he warned that in allowing excessive immigration, the United Kingdom was “heaping up its own funeral pyre.” (Those words stalled a hitherto promising career.) In 1973, the French writer Jean Raspail published “Camp of the Saints,” a novel that portrays Europe falling to massive, uncontrolled immigration from the Indian subcontinent. The peaceable transformation of a region from one major civilization to another, now under way, has no precedent in human history, making it easy to ignore such voices.

There is still a chance for the transformation not to play itself out, but the prospects diminish with time. Here are several possible ways it might be stopped:


Changes in Europe that lead to a resurgence of Christian faith, an increase in childbearing, or the cultural assimilation of immigrants; such developments can theoretically occur but what would cause them is hard to imagine.

Muslim modernization. For reasons no one has quite figured out (education of women? abortion on demand? adults too self-absorbed to have children?), modernity leads to a drastic reduction in the birth rate. Also, were the Muslim world to modernize, the attraction of moving to Europe would diminish.

Immigration from other sources. Latin Americans, being Christian, would more or less permit Europe to keep its historic identity. Hindus and Chinese would increase the diversity of cultures, making it less likely that Islam would dominate.
Current trends suggest Islamization will happen, for Europeans seem to find it too strenuous to have children, stop illegal immigration, or even diversify their sources of immigrants. Instead, they prefer to settle unhappily into civilizational senility.

Europe has simultaneously reached unprecedented heights of prosperity and peacefulness and shown a unique inability to sustain itself. One demographer, Wolfgang Lutz, notes, “Negative momentum has not been experienced on a large scale in world history.” Is it inevitable that the most brilliantly successful society also will be the first in danger of collapse due to a lack of cultural confidence and offspring? Ironically, creating a hugely desirable place to live would seem also to be a recipe for suicide. The human comedy continues.



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Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of “Miniatures” (Transaction).





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Thursday, July 01, 2004

More Distortions From Michael Moore

Here's a great article from Newsweek that point out more of the lies and inaccuracies of Michael (the only person uglier than me is my wife) Moore

Some of the main points in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ really aren’t very fair at all
WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek


June 30 - In his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” film-maker Michael Moore makes the eye-popping claim that Saudi Arabian interests “have given” $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush. This, Moore suggests, helps explain one of the principal themes of the film: that the Bush White House has shown remarkable solicitude to the Saudi royals, even to the point of compromising the war on terror. When you and your associates get money like that, Moore says at one point in the movie, “who you gonna like? Who’s your Daddy?”

But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic. Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger’s book, “House of Bush, House of Saud.” Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990’s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the country’s military and National Guard. What’s the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firm’s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former president’s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. “The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM.”

In light of the extraordinary box office success of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and its potential political impact, a rigorous analysis of the film’s assertions seems more than warranted. Indeed, Moore himself has invited the scrutiny. He has set up a Web site and “war-room” to defend the claims in the movie—and attack his critics. (The war-room’s overseers are two veteran spin-doctors from the Clinton White House: Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani.) Moore also this week contended that the media was pounding away at him “pretty hard” because “they’re embarrassed. They’ve been outed as people who did not do their job.” Among the media critiques prominently criticized was an article in Newsweek.

In response to inquiries from NEWSWEEK about the Carlyle issue, Lehane shot back this week with a volley of points: There were multiple Bush “connections” to the Carlyle Group throughout the period of the Saudi contracts to BDM, Lehane noted in an e-mail, including the fact that the firm’s principals included James Baker (Secretary of State during the first Bush administration) and Richard Darman (the first Bush’s OMB chief). Moreover, George W. Bush himself had his own Carlyle Group link: between 1990 and 1994, he served on the board of another Carlyle-owned firm, Caterair, a now defunct airline catering firm.

But unmentioned in “Fahrenheit/911,” or in the Lehane responses, is a considerable body of evidence that cuts the other way. The idea that the Carlyle Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of some loosely defined “Bush Inc.” concern seems hard to defend. Like many similar entities, Carlyle boasts a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. Its founding and still managing partner is David Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Kennard, Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Spokesman Ullman was the Clinton-era spokesman for the SEC.

As for the president’s own Carlyle link, his service on the Caterair board ended when he quit to run for Texas governor—a few months before the first of the Saudi contracts to the unrelated BDM firm was awarded. Moreover, says Ullman, Bush “didn’t invest in the [Caterair] deal and he didn’t profit from it.” (The firm was a big money loser and was even cited by the campaign of Ann Richards, Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial opponent, as evidence of what a lousy businessman he was.)


Most importantly, the movie fails to show any evidence that Bush White House actually has intervened in any way to promote the interests of the Carlyle Group. In fact, the one major Bush administration decision that most directly affected the company’s interest was the cancellation of a $11 billion program for the Crusader rocket artillery system that had been developed for the U.S. Army (during the Clinton administration)—a move that had been foreshadowed by Bush’s own statements during the 2000 campaign saying he wanted a lighter and more mobile military. The Crusader was manufactured by United Defense, which had been wholly owned by Carlyle until it spun the company off in a public offering in October, 2001 (and profited to the tune of $237 million). Carlyle still owned 47 percent of the shares in the defense company at the time that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—in the face of stiff congressional resistance—canceled the Crusader program the following year. These developments, like much else relevant to Carlyle, goes unmentioned in Moore’s movie.

None of this is to suggest that there aren’t legitimate questions that deserve to be asked about the influence that secretive firms like Carlyle have in Washington—not to mention the Saudis themselves (an issue that has been taken up repeatedly in our weekly Terror Watch columns.) Nor are we trying to say that “Fahrenheit 9/11” isn’t a powerful and effective movie that raises a host of legitimate issues about President Bush’s response to the September 11 attacks, the climate of fear engendered by the war on terror and, most importantly, about the wisdom and horrific human toll of the war in Iraq.

But for all the reasonable points he makes, on more than a few occasions in the movie Moore twists and bends the available facts and makes glaring omissions in ways that end up clouding the serious political debate he wants to provoke.

Consider Moore’s handling of another conspiratorial claim: the idea that oil-company interest in building a pipeline through Afghanistan influenced early Bush administration policy regarding the Taliban. Moore raises the issue by stringing together two unrelated events. The first is that a delegation of Taliban leaders flew to Houston, Texas, in 1997 (”while George W. Bush was governor of Texas,” the movie helpfully points out) to meet with executives of Unocal, an oil company that was indeed interested in building a pipeline to carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan.


The second is that another Taliban emissary visited Washington in March, 2001 and got an audience at the State Department, leaving Moore to speculate that the Bush administration had gone soft on the protectors of Osama bin Laden because it was interested in promoting a pipeline deal. "Why on earth would the Bush administration allow a Taliban leader to visit the United States knowing that the Taliban were harboring the man who bombed the USS Cole and our African embassies?" Moore asks at one point.

This, as conspiracy theories go, is more than a stretch. Unocal’s interest in building the Afghan pipeline is well documented. Indeed, according to “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to Sept. 10., 2001,” the critically acclaimed book by Washington Post managing editor Steve Coll, Unocal executives met repeatedly with Clinton administration officials throughout the late 1990s in an effort to promote the project—in part by getting the U.S. government to take a more conciliatory approach to the Taliban. “It was an easy time for an American oil executive to find an audience in the Clinton White House,” Coll writes on page 307 of his book. “At the White House, [Unocal lobbyist Marty Miller] met regularly with Sheila Heslin, the director of energy issues at the National Security Council, whose suite next to the West Wing coursed with visitors from American oil firms. Miller found Heslin…very supportive of Unocal’s agenda in Afghanistan.”

Coll never suggests that the Clintonites’ interest in the Unocal project was because of the corrupting influence of big oil. Clinton National Security Council advisor “Berger, Heslin and their White House colleagues saw themselves engaged in a hardheaded synthesis of American commercial interests and national security goals,” he writes. “They wanted to use the profit-making motives of American oil companies to thwart one of the country’s most determined enemies, Iran, and to contain the longer-term ambitions of a restless Russia.”

Whatever the motive, the Unocal pipeline project was entirely a Clinton-era proposal: By 1998, as the Taliban hardened its positions, the U.S. oil company pulled out of the deal. By the time George W. Bush took office, it was a dead issue—and no longer the subject of any lobbying in Washington. (Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force report in May, 2001, makes no reference to it.) There is no evidence that the Taliban envoy who visited Washington in March, 2001—and met with State Department and National Security Council officials—ever brought up the pipeline. Nor is there any evidence anybody in the Bush administration raised it with him. The envoy brought a letter to Bush offering negotiations to resolve the issue of what should be done with bin Laden. (A few weeks earlier, Taliban leader Mullah Omar had floated the idea of convening a tribunal of Islamic religious scholars to review the evidence against the Al Qaeda leader.) The Taliban offer was promptly shot down. “We have not seen from the Taliban a proposal that would meet the requirements of the U.N. resolution to hand over Osama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at the time.

The use of innuendo is rife through other critical passages of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The movie makes much of the president’s relationship with James R. Bath, a former member of his Texas Air National Guard who, like Bush, was suspended from flying at one point for failure to take a physical. The movie suggests that the White House blacked out a reference to Bath’s missed physical from his National Guard records not because of legal concerns over the Privacy Act but because it was trying to conceal the Bath connection—a presumed embarrassment because the Houston businessman had once been the U.S. money manager for the bin Laden family. After being hired by the bin Ladens to manager their money in Texas, Bath “in turn,” the movie says, “invested in George W. Bush.”

The investment in question is real: In the late 1970’s, Bath put up $50,000 into Bush’s Arbusto Energy, (one of a string of failed oil ventures by the president), giving Bath a 5 percent interest in the company. The implication seems to be that, years later, because of this link, Bush was somehow not as zealous about his determination to bin Laden.

Leaving aside the fact that the bin Laden family, which runs one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firms, has never been linked to terrorism, the movie—which relied heavily on Unger’s book—fails to note the author’s conclusion about what to make of the supposed Bin Laden-Bath-Bush nexus: that it may not mean anything. The “Bush-Bin Laden ‘relationships’ were indirect—two degrees of separation, perhaps—and at times have been overstated,” Unger writes in his book. While critics have charged that bin Laden money found its way into Arbusto through Bath, Unger notes that “no hard evidence has ever been found to back up that charge” and Bath himself has adamantly denied it. “One hundred percent of those funds (in Arbusto) were mine,” says Bath in a footnote on page 101 of Unger’s book. “It was a purely personal investment.”

The innuendo is greatest, of course, in Moore’s dealings with the matter of the departing Saudis flown out of the United States in the days after the September 11 terror attacks. Much has already been written about these flights, especially the film’s implication that figures with possible knowledge of the terrorist attacks were allowed to leave the country without adequate FBI screening—a notion that has been essentially rejected by the 9/11 commission. The 9/11 commission found that the FBI screened the Saudi passengers, ran their names through federal databases, interviewed 30 of them and asked many of them “detailed questions." “Nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country,” the commission stated. New information about a flight from Tampa, Florida late on Sept. 13 seems mostly a red herring: The flight didn’t take any Saudis out of the United States. It was a domestic flight to Lexington, Kentucky that took place after the Tampa airport had already reopened.(You can read Unger’s letter to Newsweek on this point, as well as our reply, by clicking here.)

It is true that there are still some in the FBI who had questions about the flights-and wish more care had been taken to examine the passengers. But the film’s basic point—that the flights represented perhaps the supreme example of the Saudi government’s influence in the Bush White House-is almost impossible to defend. Why? Because while the film claims—correctly—that the “White House” approved the flights, it fails to note who exactly in the White House did so. It wasn’t the president, or the vice president or anybody else supposedly corrupted by Saudi oil money. It was Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism czar who was a holdover from the Clinton administration and who has since turned into a fierce Bush critic. Clarke has publicly testified that he gave the greenlight—conditioned on FBI clearance.

“I thought the flights were correct,” Clarke told ABC News last week. “The Saudis had reasonable fear that they might be the subject of vigilante attacks in the United States after 9/11. And there is no evidence even to this date that any of the people who left on those flights were people of interest to the FBI.” Like much else relevant to the issues Moore raises, Clarke’s reasons for approving the flights—and his thoughts on them today—won’t be found in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” nor in any of the ample material now being churned out by the film-maker’s “war room” to defend his provocative, if flawed, movie.





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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Koch: Moore's propaganda film cheapens debate, polarizes nation


By Ed Koch
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM

It is shocking to me that Americans in a time of war, and we literally are at war with Americans being deliberately killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere by Islamic terrorists, will attack their own country, sapping its strength and making its enemies stronger. I am not a supporter of the xenophobic slogan “My country right or wrong.” But I do believe, when seeking to make it right if it is wrong, that none of us should endanger the country, our military personnel or our fellow citizens.

Disagreeing with America’s foreign policy and seeking to change it, responsibly or irresponsibly, is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. Shaming those who do it irresponsibly is our only lawful recourse and rightly so.

Senator John Kerry in criticizing United States’ foreign policy and the incumbent president is acting responsibly, albeit I disagree with many of his views. On the other hand, Michael Moore, writer and director of the film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” crosses that line regularly. The line is not set forth in the criminal statutes, but it is determined by Americans who know instinctively what actions and statements taken and uttered violate the obligations of responsibility and citizenship they deem applicable in time of war.


David Brooks, in a brilliant New York Times column on June 26, collected some of the statements that Michael Moore has been making in other countries which denigrate the U.S. and, in my opinion, cross the line. Brooks writes:

“Before a delighted Cambridge crowd, Moore reflected on the tragedy of human existence: ‘You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.’ In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: ‘It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton…We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants...Don't be like us,’ he told a crowd in Berlin. ‘You've got to stand up, right? You've got to be brave.’ In an open letter to the German people in Die Zeit, Moore asked, ‘Should such an ignorant people lead the world?’

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Moore helped citizens of that country understand why the United States went to war in Iraq: ‘The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.’ But venality doesn't come up when he writes about those who are killing Americans in Iraq: ‘The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents' or `terrorists' or `The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.’ Until then, few social observers had made the connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Paul Revere.”

Undoubtedly, too long a quote, but there is no substitute for the original.
A year after 9/11, I was part of a panel discussion on BBC-TV’s “Question Time” show which aired live in the United Kingdom. A portion of my commentary at that time follows:

“One of the panelists was Michael Moore, writer and director of the award-winning documentary “Roger & Me.” During the warm-up before the studio audience, Moore said something along the lines of “I don’t know why we are making so much of an act of terror. It is three times more likely that you will be struck by lightening than die from an act of terror.” I was aghast and responded, “I think what you have said is outrageous, particularly when we are today commemorating the deaths of 3,000 people resulting from an act of terror.” I mention this exchange because it was not televised, occurring as it did before the show went live. It shows where he was coming from long before he produced “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Many in the audience assembled by the BBC included Americans and people from other nations. Their positive responses to Moore on this and other comments he made during the program convinced me that the producers had found a lair of dingbats when looking to fill the studio with an audience. Moore later called President Bush a “dummy,” denigrating him for having threatened Iraq with consequences including war if it did not comply with the United Nations resolutions to which it agreed when it was defeated in the 1991 Gulf War. Again, I couldn’t contain myself and said, “That’s what you radicals on the left always do. You don’t debate issues, you denigrate your opponents. You did it with President Reagan, saying he was dumb. After he left office, 600 speeches, many hand-written by him, demonstrated his high intelligence.”

In World Wars I and II, the U.S., suffering great casualties to its military personnel, saved the world, particularly in WWII, from occupation by the German Nazi Reich and Japanese empire. We currently are fighting the battle against a minority of fundamentalist Islamists whose objective is to destroy Western civilization. They are willing to use every act of terrorism from suicide bombers to hacking off heads to destroy and terrorize us into surrender. And Michael Moore weakens us before that enemy. How should we respond? With scorn, catcalls, the Bronx cheer and the truth. Of course, we should recognize the outrages and criminal acts committed by Americans in military service and civilians at the Iraqi prison Abu Ghraib. We should continue as we have done and take action to punish those involved. But we ought not in the media show again and again the pictures of the atrocities to simply flagellate ourselves and give aid and comfort to our enemies. A good rule of thumb might be to show the pictures of Abu Ghraib as many times as we show the beheadings of Danny Pearl, Nicholas Berg and Paul Johnson.

I am a movie critic, so I went to see “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The movie is a well-done propaganda piece and screed as has been reported by most critics. It is not a documentary which seeks to present the facts truthfully. The most significant offense that movie commits is to cheapen the political debate by dehumanizing the President and presenting him as a cartoon.

Newsday reported some of Moore’s misstatements as follows: “At the start of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ filmmaker Michael Moore shows a clip of CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that if ballots had been recounted in Florida after the 2000 presidential vote, ‘under every scenario Gore won the election.’

“What Moore doesn't show is that a six-month study in 2001 by news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN found just the opposite. Even if the Supreme Court had not stopped a statewide recount, or if a more limited recount of four heavily Democratic counties had taken place, Bush still would have won Florida and the election…Moore suggests Bush's conflict of interest was manifest shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks when the White House ‘approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis’ who, fearing reprisals, were flown out of the United States. Embellishing the well-known scenario, Moore interviews a retired FBI agent who says authorities should have first questioned the bin Ladens.

“But the bin Ladens were questioned. The commission investigating the attacks reported in April that the FBI interviewed 30 passengers: ‘Nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks’” It is clear to me from the tenor of the film’s off-screen commentary by Michael Moore that he would have denounced WW II. Did he support the United States and NATO going into Bosnia to save the Muslims from ethnic cleansing and destruction? Would he agree that we should have attempted to save the Muslim men from death at the hands of the Serbs in Srebrenica? Should we now be going into the Sudan and saving perhaps a million black Christian and Animist Sudanese from Arab marauders who are murdering, raping and starving the blacks and even selling some into slavery? Weren’t we right to go into Iraq on the basis of United Nations Resolution 1441 which stated the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction and that was a cause for war unless they accounted for them and destroyed them, which they refused to do?

Now that no WMDs have yet been found, was the invasion to end the reign of Saddam Hussein, who had killed and tortured hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, still supportable? Moore thinks not. I think, yes.

The movie’s diatribes, sometimes amusing and sometimes manifestly unfair, will not change any views. They will simply cheapen the national debate and reinforce the opinions on both sides.



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Edward I. Koch, who served as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, is a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Will We See Weeks of This From the American Media?


This from Al Jazeera. Another American executed while in captivity. Shot in the head. Will CBS, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes, CNN and others run this story for weeks and weeks as they did Abu Ghraith? I doubt it. The AMerican media can demonize the Bush Administration and our soldiers--but shootings and beheadings somehow end up coming and going in a daily news cycle.

Purported Iraqi group executes US soldier

Maupin was captured after an attack on his convoy on 9 April

In videotaped and written statements mailed to Aljazeera, a previously unknown Iraqi group has claimed it has executed a US soldier it captured in April.

Keith Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio, who was listed as captured on 16 April by the US Department of Defence (DOD), was executed because the Bush administration did not change its policies in Iraq, the statement said.

The group - calling itself the Persistent Power Against the Enemies of God and the Prophet - claimed the execution was also in revenge for what it called atrocities committed against "Muslim martyrs" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

In the videotape, which was aired on the Aljazeera early on Tuesday, Maupin is seen talking to the camera.

He is dressed in military fatigues.

Aljazeera said it catered to viewers' sensitivities and did not broadcast the execution but said Maupin appeared blindfolded in front of a freshly-dug grave with his back to the camera.

He was then shot in the head.

Defence statement

According to a DOD statement, Maupin and Sergeant Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina, were categorised as duty status - whereabouts unknown on 9 April.

Individuals using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire attacked their convoy. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army Reserve's 724th Transportation Company, from Bartonville, Illinois, the statement said.

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Islamophobia--Probably a good time to understand it

Here's an interesting exchange from John Ray at http://ofint2.blogspot.com/


Islamophobia

(This is an email circulated by Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics: www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk. A reply by R.C. follows Mr Ahmad's disquisition:)

Islamophobia and Arabophobia has been part of western culture since the Crusades, with Saddam and Osama only the latest in a long line of Arab bogeymen. The real reason for the current spate of Islamophobia is the fact that Islam has been the fastest growing religion in the world and as such poses a threat to the West. This is happening inspite of widespread misconceptions and negative media portrayed of Islam.

Prejudice against Islam in the West developed due to historic rivalry of Christianity against Islam. The defeat of Christians by the Muslims in Crusades was a big shock for the Christian world. These deep wounds are still so fresh in the Christian world today that the parents, media, politicians and teachers feel it a duty to nurture the feelings of prejudice against Islam in the hearts and minds of their young generations. According to Runnymede Trust, Britain has become "an institutionally Islamophobic" society in which Muslims are demonised. Hostility towards Muslims is still a major problem and is not being taken seriously enough by race relations bodies. According to Dr. Richard Stone, there is now renewed talk of a clash of civilizations, a new global cold war, and mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance. According to John Gieve of the Home office, Islamic extremism might be a "symptom of disaffection". The same disaffection previously surfaced during the riots that shook Oldham and Bradford in 2001.

Jews and Christian scholars, the so called Western Orientals have always tried to mispresent Islam in their writings. They have always tried to spread baseless lies against Islam in a very authentic and scholarly style, hiding their deep rooted hatred against Islam. They have called all efforts to restore pure Islam in Muslim countries as "fundamentalist movements" against modern-day material progress and economic development. Lacy O'Leary in the book "Islam at the cross road": "history makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated." Even Gandhi refuted the false propaganda, otherwise, one could not find even a single Hindu or non-Muslim in the Indian sub-continent and on top of that Sikhism could not dare to emerge as a religion. India would be the largest Muslim country in the world. In the 20th century new images emerged, the fanatical terrorist, the stone-thrower and the suicide bomber. According to Lord Carey, there was a deep-rooted Islamophobia in Britain. There is a worrying ignorance of Muslim people and suspicion of their presence in the United Kingdom. It is assumed by many that Muslims wish to take over 'our country and if we allow them to enter Britain in significant numbers they will in time make the country Islamic'.

Mr. Denis MacShane, the Minister for Europe urged British Muslims to adopt the "British norms" and not the way of the "terrorists", in other words "Islamic way". He provoked Muslims to choose between the "British way" and the way of terrorism." Monica Ali's, who was mis-educated and de-educated by the British education system, portrays Bangladeshi Muslims in Brick Lane as backward, uneducated and unsophisticated. This is the main reason why her book was selected for Guardian First Book Award. The content of the book is a despicable insult to Bengali Muslims at home and abroad. The book can be compared to Salman Rushdie's Stanic Verses. The combined forces of racial discrimination and Islamophobia have been awesome in the marginalisation and alienation of the Muslim community. Muslims made to feel like an enemy within by Islamophobic attitudes. Hardening prejudice against Islam is creating a dis-affected underclass of young Muslims "time-bombs" likely to explode into violence, according to a recent report. Life for Britain 1.6 million Muslims has never been easy. For decades they have struggled in the face of discrimination in all walks of life. West is not based on Judio-Christian civilisation. This term should be abandoned to be replaced by Judio-Christian-Islamic civilisation. The new language should be used in all venues starting with media, academic statements by politicians, church leaders and Imams of Masajid. These are the words that define how we are related to each other's.

Through out the modern history, Muslims have contributed for the Renaissance of Western culture and society. Islamic values are not only compatible with the western values they are almost identical. Islamic ideas helped shape the European West that produced the values cherished by the constitution's framers. Western culture is infact based on Muslim culture. The aim of education is to give the highest possible standard in order to advance spiritually, emotionally, technologically and economically. The early Muslim knew this and they were instrumental in giving the west much of the scientific knowledge that has once helped it to thrive.

Bernard Shaw once said that the future religion of the West would be Islam and only Islam. Islamophobia is guiding Westerners towards that end. They study with open mind the Holy Quran and Islamic literature and poetry. Islam is a force fighting Imperialism. Read the greatest book of revolution: The Holy Quran. Meet the greatest revolutionary of all times: Muhammad (peace be upon him). In America a great number of universities, colleges and schools are offering Islamic Studies courses. There is a possibility that in the near future half of native population would revert to Islam. In fact Islamophobia is a blessing in disguise.

Iftikhar Ahmad

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To Mr Ahmad, London School of Islamics

Dear Mr Ahmad,

Thank you for sending me your thoughts about "Islamophobia", which I note you did not define the meaning of in any way. You make some /very/ remarkable claims which you really should clarify about.

Firstly you say that "Islamic values are not only compatible with the western values they are almost identical." In that case, please tell me Mr Ahmad which are these specific values which are compatible or identical. I can certainly tell you which ones are fundamentally incompatible and contrasting, for instance the following.

1) Christ (with characteristic genius) said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", six centuries before the Mohammed era.. By contrast stoning is a standard official practice in Islamic regimes, and all the millions of people who go on the ridiculous Hajj every year, every one of them has to throw at least three stones "at the devil" as they put it. I can assure you that almost the entirety of people throughout the world except for Islamists are utterly REVOLTED by this brutal "value" of stoning.

2) We have a value of equal rights and respect for women, manifested in many ways for instance the right to vote. By contrast Surah 4/34 states that "men are in charge of women .... good women are obedient .... if they disobey, admonish them and scourge them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great." Dear Mr Ahmad, I can assure you that outside of the institutionalised thuggery that is Islam, you will find virtually nothing but total REVULSION at the nastiness and bigotry there expressed.

3) In other places in the Koran and in Mohammed's life and in constant Islamic practice, is revealed a "value" of persecuting, intimidating and indeed killing people for their expressing disagreement with the half-baked failed system of ideas that is Islam. In total contrast to this, Christ said "Father forgive them for what they do", and "Peter put away your sword for those who live by the sword shall die by the sword", and there is a corresponding general value in the West of respecting of difference of opinion (which is why we allow you to send such rubbish to us and even to live in our country while doing so -- tell me just how much tolerance of criticism of Islam (or endorsement of Christianity) there is in Pakistan, Arabia, Egypt, a "Karachi School of Christianity" sending out emails etc).

4) Again, our fundamental value of democracy and reasoned discussion stands in utter incompatibility with the Islamists' demand for "rule by God" (a ridiculous concept anyway, because who are you to tell me that your opinion (or Mohammed's opinion) of the correct god-given rule is more valid than mine?). In reality, so-called rule by God just turns out to be rule by the most powerful thug-dictators.

5) And then the Islamic notion that women should conceal their faces is utterly incompatible with the western values in which the only people who cover their faces are criminals. And likewise the Western value according to which people should choose their marriage partners on the basis of getting to know one another first, in total contrast to the Islamic ideology and practice.

You further state that "In the 20th century new images emerged, the fanatical terrorist, the stone-thrower and the suicide bomber. " Mr Ahmad, these are not "images". The terrorists, stone-throwers and suicide bombers are very real and they are ///VERY/// Islamic. In stark contrast, there will never be any Christian terrorists, stoners or bombers, because Christianity is totally non-violent. "Turn the other cheek"; "Love your enemies"; "Thou shalt not kill (with no exceptions (unless you are pseudo-Christian Blair or Bush of course))".

Have you heard of "Holocaust denial"? Well you have done something far far worse than that, namely Jihad denial. You say that: "history makes it clear that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated."

Well I have some sad news for you Mr Ahmad. I have here "The meaning of the Glorious Quran, an explanatory translation by Mohammed M Pickthall, Albirr Foundation UK" It describes in, ahem, glorious, ahem, detail how Mohammed "found it necessary" to defend his ideology by military force. How his army ransacked whole cities because there was opposition to Islam within them, and how finally after he had thuggishly defeated all his critics without any resort to pure reasoning, only then did he decide that Allah was going to be so so gloriously "merciful" at least to those who pretended to be impressed by this intellectual baboonery.

In line with this behaviour, the Allah of the Koran has a peculiarly high level of preoccupation with sex and with military victory over enemies. Remarkable preoccupations for a supposedly metaphysical being to have. It couldn't of course be because the Koran was written not by God but by a very human brutal intolerant sex-maniac could it? This stands in total contrast to the genuine religions which are preoccupied with higher values of kindness and understanding.

Mr Ahmad, what history does make clear is that after Mohammed had arrived at his "merciful" stage, and then died, shortly after his death Islamic armies invaded and conquered the whole area that is characterised by desert, the areas in which nomadic tribe/gang culture prevailed (and which was the source of Islamic "values").

You further state: "Even Gandhi refuted the false propaganda, otherwise, one could not find even a single Hindu or non-Muslim in the Indian sub-continent and on top of that Sikhism could not dare to emerge as a religion. India would be the largest Muslim country in the world." and "The defeat of Christians by the Muslims in Crusades was a big shock for the Christian world.

Mr Ahmad, the fact is that the Islamic Jihad failed in its 1000-year-long attempt to conquer Europe, which ended shortly after their blowing up the 2000-year old Parthenon in Athens, the greatest building in history. How about we come and nuke your Medina Mosque, for which we certainly have the technology? (one Muslim explained that this could not succeed as per the account of swarms of birds with, ahem, stones, thwarting such an attack -- strangely these holy birds do not stop mosques being burnt down in many countries nowadays.)

Likewise the Jihad came to a halt in India because the thuggery that is Islam can only gain a firm foothold in or near its native gangster-land terrain of the desert. (It should be noted that many of the immigrants from Pakistan seem mindlessly determined to recreate that desert on their own properties here - great if they are happy to live on a diet of stones for ever more).

In total contrast to the murderous Mohammed and his Jihad, Christianity was from the beginning totally non-violent. Christianity was spread by peaceful missionaries courageously going unarmed to talk with people, as for instance St Patrick going to Ireland, and earlier the travels of St Paul et al as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Quite where in Islam is there anything even remotely resembling the historical sequence indicated in the Acts of the Apostles?

You also assert that: "Throughout the modern history, Muslims have contributed for the Renaissance of Western culture and society. " But that is untrue. Muslims have been responsible for the invention of virtually nothing. Even the preservation of Hellenic culture was largely the work of the Christian Assyrian diaspora living under Islamic occupation. In this UK city I constantly see Muslims/"Muslims" whose lives are totally dominated by their embrace of western inventions - cars, planes, TV, cinema, all sorts of electrical and mechanical things etc, etc. Quite how many inventions of Muslims does anyone use? Even the bicycles in Kabul were invented by Brits (along with their tyres and bearings).

Muslims can't even manage a year that is actually a year long, something the West introduced 600 years before Mohammed in the reign of Julius Caesar. If the British had set their seasons by the Islamic calendar they would have starved to extinction centuries ago. It continues to be the case that Islam's tenth-rate ideology cannot cope with criticism, and has to resort to lies, censorship and childish playground bullying as happened in the Kilroy-Silk case. "I'm stronger than you, therefore I am cleverer".

In conclusion, Islam is not really a religion but rather is institutionalised brutality. People rightly view it with contempt and are rightly hostile to such an evil and nasty phenomenon. Till this century it has been able to shelter behind its military/tribal defences. But now with the information revolution its hollow shell of pretentiousness and cowed conformity will begin to collapse and die under pressure of the truth and discussion with which it cannot cope. I'm sorry if this was not the message you wanted to hear, but for better or worse it is the truth that I have to tell you.

Sincerely,
R. C.



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Al Qaida May Try To Influence US, Italian Elections

By Marcus Kabel

VIENNA, June 24 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda may time future attacks to try to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere after using that tactic in the Madrid train bombings, a top U.S. security official said on Thursday.

"When Al Qaeda takes credit for the Madrid bombing, and the notion there is that one can realize political ends by atrocious terrorist behaviour, that can't be left on the table," said James Loy, deputy head of the Department of Homeland Security.

"One only has to extrapolate to wonder what's going to happen in the Italian elections, the Polish elections, the Philippine elections, the U.S. elections," he told Reuters in an interview in Vienna.

Militants linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda are suspected of carrying out the Madrid bombings of four commuter trains on March 11 which killed 191 people.

Many Spaniards saw the attacks as retribution for their country's support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the deployment of Spanish troops there. In elections three days later, they voted out the ruling conservatives and installed a Socialist government which has now withdrawn the troops.

Loy said that since Madrid, U.S. security officials had turned even greater attention to the risk of al Qaeda attacks around the time of the U.S. presidential election in November, or the Democratic and Republican Party conventions in Boston and New York in late summer.

U.S. officials have also mentioned the July 4 Independence Day celebrations as a potential target.

Loy said the threat level had not changed -- "no more, no less" -- since May 26, when Attorney General John Ashcroft said there was credible intelligence that al Qaeda planned to attack the United States in the next few months.

Some analysts have criticised Ashcroft's statement as "back-covering" by the Bush administration. The reported threat did not lead to any change in the the national terror alert level, which remains at yellow or "elevated".

Loy said the warning was justified by a combination of intelligence on al Qaeda and the number of major events in the U.S. calendar which presented it with opportunities.

"Between now and the (presidential) inauguration of next year, there was this window which suggested a menu of opportunity for terrorists to try something," he said.

"I think we have the same degree of concern, with that combination of a much more seemingly constant stream of intelligence going by, suggesting that there could be means to take advantage of these events that are on the calendar."



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