PETER BERGER: THE GEOGRAPHY OF HORROR

We are in effect at war with Islamist radicalism. It is very unhelpful if this reality is denied, as the Obama administration has tried to do.

Two news items, spread within days over all the media, must be seen together so as to disclose an ominous reality. One was the news that Meriam Ibrahim and her family had finally arrived safely in the United States. The other news was that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was proclaimed Caliph of the new Islamic State. The story of Meriam Ibrahim tells of yet another horrendous cruelty perpetrated in the name of Islam. The new Caliphate expresses the intention of globalizing the horror.

There are two ways of looking at the record of these atrocities. One is to see them as intrinsic to Islam, the other as an aberration of genuine Islam. The first view is rarely proposed publically in the United States, though it may be quietly held by some Americans less affected by the prevailing culture of tolerance. It is more openly stated in Europe, for example by the Dutch populist Geert Wilders, who admitted that he hated Islam as an enemy of freedom (among other things he proposed that the Quran, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, should be banned in the Netherlands). It is also interesting to compare the different attitudes to Islamist terrorism by the successive administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Immediately after the attacks of September 2001 President Bush made a speech in which he declared that we are not at war with Islam but with terrorism. (He also said that “Islam means peace”, which it does not. A linguistically challenged White House speech writer must have confused two Arabic words—salaam/”peace”, a common form of salutation among Muslims, and aslama/”submission”, the root of the religion’s name. Not that this matters; Bush meant well.)

The “war against terror” unleashed by the Bush administration has not gone well, to put it mildly. But the domestic reaction to the aforementioned speech was very positive. Numerous churches and synagogues went out of their way to express friendship for Muslims, courses on Islam proliferated in academia, and there was hardly any violence against Muslims (one terrible exception was the murder of a Sikh taxi driver, who was wrongly identified as a Muslim because of his turban). Early after his election President Obama gave a speech in Cairo in which he expressed his admiration for Islam (barely stopping short of apologizing for not being a Muslim). The response to the speech in the Muslim world was decidedly muted. Obama had no problem with Bush’s Islamophilia; he did have a problem with the word “war”—ever since the Cairo speech the Obama administration has maintained either that there was no war to begin with, or (presumably because of Obama’s wise foreign policy) the war was now over. Both Bush’s and Obama’s approaches are in tension with empirical reality. To suggest that Islamist terror has nothing to do with Islam is rather absurd. There is a great shortage of Presbyterian suicide bombers; the Muslim ones, as they blow themselves up, shout “Allahu akbar!”/”Allah is great!” To deny that radical Islamism (aberration or not) is not at war with us is also quite absurd. Barack Obama may not think that we are in a war, but the news has not reached Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

U.S. Hospitals Aren’t Ready For Ebola Outbreak by BETSY MCCAUGHEY, PHD

Ebola poses virtually no risk to most Americans, but hospital workers and their patients could face real danger if someone unknowingly infected with the deadly virus travels to the U.S. and comes to an emergency room here for care.

Many hospitals are poorly prepared to contain any pathogen. That’s why at least 75,000 people a year die from hospital infections. If hospitals can’t stop common infections like MRSA, C. diff and VRE, they can’t handle Ebola.

On July 20, Patrick Sawyer, an American working in Liberia, collapsed after an air journey from Liberia to Nigeria.

He had no idea he had Ebola, but five days later he died of it. He could have been getting off at JFK. At least 11 flights leave Liberia daily with connections to JFK.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent, says it’s a “real possibility” someone unknowingly sick with Ebola will fly to the U.S.

The Ebola outbreak has infected over 1,400 people, and killed 826 of them in three West African countries.

Last week, the World Health Organization issued guidelines for airlines. If a passenger is diagnosed with Ebola after the flight, all passengers on the same flight should be tracked down and tested.

As Ebola victims become sicker, they have vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Those bodily fluids contain high concentrations of the virus, which can infect anyone exposed.

Airline cleaning crews are instructed to wear disposable gloves and wipe down arm rests, seat backs, trays and light switches if any passenger is sick.

Two Nigerian based airline companies and Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, already have suspended service to the affected countries. But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Thomas Frieden rejects that approach.

“We’re not going to hermetically seal the borders of the U.S.,” he said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “We’re reliant and interdependent with the world for travel, for trade, for economy, for our families and communities.”

EDWARD CLINE: WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST?

..To be thrown under the Hamas bus as “human shields”? Also the elderly and the invalid?

Hamas’s operative policy is: Yes.

And if a Hamas rocket fizzles and lands in the midst of a crowd of non-human shield Gazans in another part of town, that’s a fortunate error, because then the director, cast, and camera crews of Pallywood’s staged photographs and videos can go to work and fob it off to the gullible Western news media as another cruel and “genocidal” Israeli air strike. That’s happened so many times it’s nearly a joke. Never waste the crisis of a wayward missile.

Retired British Colonel Richard Kemp, in his August 3rd Gatestone article, “Gaza’s Civilian Casualties: The Truth is Very Different,” wrote:

With few exceptions, reporters, commentators, and analysts unquestioningly accept the casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who ascribe all deaths to the IDF. We have never seen so much as a glimpse of killed or wounded fighters.

Analysis of casualty details released by Qatar-based Al Jazeeraindicate that so far most of those killed in Gaza have been young men of fighting age, not women, children or old people.

All Palestinian civilian casualties in this conflict result ultimately from Gaza terrorists’ aggression against Israel, and Hamas’s use of human shields – the most important plank of Hamas’s war-fighting policy.

The tactic calls to mind two cinematic instances of one side deliberately sacrificing its own: the opening scene of Enemy at the Gates (2001), when Soviet officers ordered mostly unarmed Russian soldiers to charge a German machine gun/tank position during the battle of Stalingrad, and are subsequently slaughtered; and Seinfeld’s George Costanzia’s panic and subsequent tissue-thin explanations for why he pushed everyone else out of the way during his to escape from a burning burger fire during in indoor children’s party. The one instance is terrifying; the other, amusingly pathetic.

But, that’s the Hamas way. And the MSM’s way. George Costanza claimed, among other things, that he ran from the house in order to “lead the way out.” Hamas claims it forces Gazans to stand on the roofs of targeted buildings to “lead the way out” of an “occupation.” Israel shouldn’t have held its fire in those instances. A couple of blasted buildings with Gazan bodies strewn all over would have likely sparked a revolt of the Gazans – against Hamas. Also, remember that these are the same Gazans who voted for Hamas (whether or not the “election” was rigged), who allow it to rule Gaza, and who celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Obama’s Monsters Ball: White House Invited Some of Africa’s Most Evil Dictators: By Corey Charlton and Ted Thornhill ****

Leaders were invited to the White House for the first ever US Africa summit
Included were dictators and despots with shocking human rights records
Obama’s speech barely acknowledged the oppression rife across Africa

President Barack Obama drew the diplomatic line somewhere at the first ever U.S-Africa summit at the White House this week by not inviting Zimbabwe’s brutal dictator Robert Mugabe.

But the guest list still included several other African leaders with only slightly better human rights records.

The White House promoted the summit as the largest-ever gathering of African leaders in the United States, with more than 50 countries represented.

The red carpet was rolled out for Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who shot or jailed virtually all his political opponents, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, who threatened to ‘cut off the head’ of any homosexuals in the country and for Cameroon’s Paul Biya, who has the dubious honor of ranking 19th on author David Wallechinsky’s 2006 list of the world’s 20 worst living dictators.

Many of the leaders were later photographed in the White House, posing for individual portraits with Obama and the First Lady.

EILEEN TOPLANSKY: OBAMA AND BILLY BUDD

In Herman Melville’s classic story “Billy Budd,” the narrator ponders what could be the matter with the master-at-arms “who has an animus toward the young seaman known as Billy Budd.” Therein ensues a discussion about “natural depravity: a depravity according to nature.” Thus, “one who has this natural depravity can be described as having an

…even temper and discreet bearing [which] would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason [other] than to employ it as an ambidexter [deceitful method of pretending to be rational, but actually double dealing] … for effecting the irrational.

Consequently,

…toward the accomplishment of an aim which in wantonness of atrocity would seem to partake of the insane, he will direct a cool judgment sagacious and

sound. These men are madmen, and of the most dangerous sort, for their lunacy is not continuous, but occasional, evoked by some special object; it is protectively secretive, which is as much as to say it is self contained, so that when, moreover most active it is to the average mind not distinguishable from sanity, and for the reason above suggested: that whatever [its] aims may be–and the aim is never declared–the method and the outward proceeding are always perfectly rational.

The narrator ends this philosophizing with the caveat that this “mania of an evil nature, not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or licentious living, but born with him and innate, [is] in short ‘a depravity according to nature.’”

Does this “natural depravity” describe Barack Hussein Obama? Repeatedly, the notion that there is something wrong with Obama emerges among those who attempt to analyze this man. His claim that “we [were] only five days away from transforming America” never actually spelled out what this transformation would look like. His assertion of being the most transparent administration is another empty and unmet promise. Like a snake, he slithers into comfortable camouflage as he and “his team have always had an allergic reaction to being placed on an ideological spectrum with any more precision than that he is a pragmatic progressive.”

Obama and his slavish media pride themselves on presenting him as “cool.” He will not be brought down by any such negative virtue as drinking too much; and certainly scandals that bring to mind Clinton’s dalliances would never be part of Obama’s playbook. In short, “the depravity here meant partakes nothing of the sordid or sensual” as Melville’s narrator explains. Even Obama’s days of drugs and partying are casually shrugged away as being “hip” back in the day.

TOM ROGAN: WHILE THE WORLDIS PREOCCUPIED WITH GAZA, ANOTHR RELIGIOUS MINORITY FACES THE WORLD’S WORST FANATICS

Yezidi and the Islamic State

About 15 miles east of the Syrian border, Yezidi, members of a religious sect numbering probably fewer than 1 million worldwide, sit atop the small Iraqi mountain range of Sinjar. They have little food and water, and, without support, many are already dying. (Sean Thomas offers excellent reporting here.)

Hope is also perishing, because the world’s worst fanatics are heading their way: the Islamic State (IS). On its ordained march to purge the world of anyone who doesn’t kneel, IS has little interest in mercy. The Islamic State project is a proud mission of death.

Of course, you may not have heard about any of this. The hashtag hypocrites are intoxicated by Gaza, after all. Still, this catastrophe is very real. And it’s not just the Yezidi who are suffering. The Kurds of northern Iraq and Syria are in an equally desperate position. Alone and outgunned, they face annihilation.

This isn’t complex. As Max Terzano has noted, the U.S. has a clear moral responsibility to support the Kurdish people. But there’s another issue here. In the Middle East, U.S. credibility has plummeted. If America now ignores the Yezidi–Kurdish plight, doing so will broadcast a terrible message: that our friendship means little and that alternative allies — Iran, for example — might be a better bet. In essence, not only will our humanitarian reputation suffer a hammer blow, so will our broader strategic interests.

Fortunately, we have good options. With the U.S. Air Force’s 728th Air Mobility Squadron at Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey (a few hundred miles from Sinjar), America has a preexisting infrastructure to support airdrop missions into northern Iraq. In addition, squadrons from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier group are currently supporting intelligence operations over Iraq. Those squadrons could also be used for strike operations against IS, pressuring the group’s rapid-maneuver warfare and degrading its heavy-weapons assets.

HADLEY ARKES: LESSONS OF NIXON’S DEPARTURE

Did the scandal and his impeachment really vindicate “the rule of law”?

We are marking this week the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation, with the helicopter lifting him away from the White House and out of Washington. In one of those ever-recurring anniversaries of Watergate, Tom Brokaw delivered himself of the judgment that the scandal and the impeachment of Richard Nixon vindicated “the rule of law.” The truth that apparently dare not speak its name is that the lesson has been quite the reverse. For the telling, formal mark of a rule of law is that those who lay down the laws governing others should be willing to regard those same laws as binding on themselves. When the matter is cast as a “precedent” for legislators or judges, the question is whether people are willing to respect the principle they invoked in their earlier decision, even when it cuts against the side they favor now.

During the argument over the impeachment of President Clinton, William Bennett and I raised the question in the Wall Street Journal of whether the grounds put forth to justify the impeachment of Nixon would be honored now. Among the list of accusations, Mr. Nixon was charged with suborning perjury: “condoning . . . counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers” and “misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings.” In the sweep of accusation, Nixon was charged also with misleading the public, interfering with the conduct of investigations, and obtaining from the IRS “confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law.” Those charges, of course, could have been made with even more force against FDR, and against presidents who have come well after Nixon. But the point was that the charges, if proven true, were offered seriously as grounds for removing a president from office.

Bill Bennett and I raised the simple question of whether the people who had persuaded themselves on these points in 1973–74 would respect them now when those charges cut against a president they regarded as their own. The record speaks amply for itself. Whatever else was accomplished 40 years ago in driving Mr. Nixon from office, it did not turn out to be the rebirth of a dedication to the “rule of law.”

But was it a just judgment, nevertheless, at the time? If we look again at the laundry list of charges, what springs out is the recognition that these charges could have been made against many presidents before and since Nixon. And this can be said even by people who do not think — as the late Jude Wanniski put it — that the main fault in the Nixon administration was that the Watergate burglars put the tape inside the door horizontally (where it was spotted by the guard) instead of vertically (where it could have gone unseen).

LGBTQ Center That Hosts Rubber Fetish Convention Gets Millions In Taxpayer Cash By Katherine Timpf

Center also hosts sex workshops, parties.

A Chicago LGBTQ group that hosts an annual rubber fetish contest and convention has received millions in federal, state and city tax dollars.

Center on Halsted, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community center, bills “Mr. International Rubber” as the “preeminent annual men’s rubber fetish event,” according to the event description of the 2009 contest. The winner that year received a $10,000 prize.

The center will host this year’s “Mr. International Rubber” from Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

Raunchy events such as this are common at the center.

Last August, the group hosted an “interactive” pleasure workshop titled “Awakening Your Sexual Self: Unlearning Shame + Embracing Pleasure.”

“Pleasure is your birthright,” the event description states. “It’s time to wake up and enjoy your body.”

The center’s regular events include various parties, concerts, and class offerings ranging from “Facebook for 45+” to “queer tango” lessons.

Illinois Senate Minority Whip Tim Bivinssaid in an interview with The Blaze that he would like to see a state audit of the group.

“An audit would let us know what they’re doing with the money,” he said. “If you’re paying to keep the lights on, even if they are just renting the building out, there are objections to be made as to how the money is spent.”

Bivins also said that many lawmakers are aware of the use of the funds, but won’t speak out “because they’re afraid of being labeled.”

“I put it into context,” Bivins said. “If this were any other not-for-profit such as United Way, Red Cross, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, etc. . . . and they rented out a building owned by them for heterosexual sex events, I am quite confident that every government body and citizen would be outraged and funding would cease immediately.”

During his time in the U.S. House and as Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel secured more than $2 million in funding for the group.

World War I Continues to Haunt Us By Jonah Goldberg

Though it may seem anciently irrelevant, the war’s consequences remain very much alive.
World War I started one century ago. Wait! Don’t stop reading.

For most Americans, the war is like algebra or frog anatomy — something you have to study briefly in school but then never have to think about again. Unlike World War II, with its unambiguous villains, epic battles and clear victory, World War I is a hot mess. Countries and forgotten empires declared war on each other in no small part because a bunch of aristocrats in funny clothes said they had to.

Everything about World War I — from the seemingly ridiculous fighting techniques (who hasn’t watched a movie with trench warfare and thought, “Man, that’s a dumb way to die”?) to the clothes and music — seems anciently irrelevant.

But the truth is that almost no modern event can hold a candle to it. George Kennan observed that when studying the maladies of the 20th century, “all the lines of inquiry lead back to World War I.” A century from now, people might say the same thing of the past two centuries.

Let’s start with the obvious. The staggering loss of military lives: 650,000 Italians, 325,000 Turks, nearly a million from the British empire, over a million from Austro-Hungarian lands, 1.4 million from France, 1.7 million Russians, 1.8 million Germans and 116,516 Americans — not to mention 8.9 million civilian casualties worldwide. None of that counts the 50 million fatalities resulting from the influenza pandemic largely unleashed by the war.

Without World War I, you don’t get the second — a poignant irony given that the former was sold as the “war to end all wars.” The terms imposed on Germany, described as a “Carthaginian peace” by John Maynard Keynes, made another war virtually inevitable. Much as Adolf Hitler found his life’s mission while fighting in World War I. Benito Mussolini’s Fascism was a direct adaptation of what he called “the socialism of the trenches.”

IAN TUTTLE: LATIN AMERICA TURNS TOWARDS ISRAEL

A group of eminent leaders tries to build ties.
When in late 2009 MahmoudAhmadinejad, president of Iran at the time, made an unprecedented visit to Brazil at the invitation of Brazilian president LuizInácio “Lula” da Silva, Israel took note. Not six months later, traveling through Israel, Lula declined to visit the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the philosophical father of Zionism, whose tomb is an official stop for visiting heads of state. He made sure, though, to lay a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat.

Lula’s pronounced distaste for the Jewish state only made explicit the anti-Israel sentiment that has been simmering for decades in Latin America — a reality that, many have observed, is detrimental to Israel and Latin America both. With the United States and Europe facing the consequences of years of flawed economic policy, Israel is looking elsewhere for new economic partners, particularly for its noted high-tech industry, and burgeoning Central and South American markets present attractive opportunities. But there is an impediment to a mutually beneficial partnership, and it is not economic but political.

Since the beginning of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, five Latin American nations — Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Peru — have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel, officially severing diplomatic ties. Venezuela and Bolivia cut ties in 2009, and Nicaragua in 2010, but in late July Bolivia expanded its censure, ending a visa-exemption agreement with Israel that has been in effect since 1972. President Evo Morales declared Israel a “terrorist state.” A lawmaker from Venezuela’s ruling party called Israel’s latest operation “genocide.”

A strong anti-Israel reaction from the region is not overly surprising. The largest Palestinian diaspora outside the Arab world is in Latin America; 280,000 persons of Palestinian descent reside in Honduras, 350,000 in Chile, and tens of thousands more are scattered throughout the continent. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Latin America are Christian, but they sympathize with the cause of Palestinian nationalism, if not with the Islamist groups, such as Hamas, that tout it.

Latin America has also long been a bastion of political leftism; from Che Guevara and the Castros to the evangelists of liberation theology, political schemers have found inspiration in Marx and his utopian dreams. Cuba, the zenith (or perhaps nadir) of Latin American Communism, cut diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973, on the occasion of the Yom Kippur War. In the 1970s anti-American sentiment, common in Latin America, also extended to Israel, perceived by many to be merely an appendage of the U.S.