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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 25, 2009.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Saudi couple arrested for torturing maid to death

These cases are all too common in Saudi Arabia.  For example, Rebecca covered the release of a report on Saudi maid abuse here.  In this case, an un-named woman of un-named nationality was beaten and burned to death with an iron rod.  Yes, her Saudi masters just happened to have a red-hot iron rod laying around - doesn't everyone?  From Arab News:

JUBAIL: A 28-year-old maid described only as “Asian” was beaten to death by her sponsor and his wife last Friday, a local daily reported on Monday.

Police confirmed reports the maid was brought to a local hospital in Jubail dead with multiple wounds and burns to her body and head. Police said an iron rod was used to beat and burn the maid.

Police have arrested the 36-year-old Saudi and his 29-year-old wife. The man confessed to beating the maid with an iron rod. He also said the rod was heated to burn the maid.

The couple claimed that they had to resort to the beatings because of the maid’s attitude. The husband justified his behavior saying the maid repeatedly failed to carry out his orders and also neglected work inside the house.

Even if this were true, which it surely isn't, they could simply fire her and hire a more diligent maid.  But this isn't about a neglectful maid, it's about sadism.  It's about showing the kufir how worthless their life is, and how powerful the True Believers are.  It's about a belief system that is utterly devoid of compassion.

The husband, during the interrogation, cast doubts about the maid’s character, claiming that she did “indecent” things inside the house. He said he took the iron to the maid’s body after throwing water on her.

Note that he is unrepentent.  He is merely explaining why he beat her to death.  He has no fear of retribution for killing a worthless, disposable kufir.

[...]

In February, a Saudi couple was arrested on charges of beating and burning a Sri Lankan maid who was found by security patrols near the sea at Yanbu Industrial City. Police said the maid suffered burns across her body, especially her hands. Police said the employer and his wife denied mistreating the maid, insisting the injuries were self-inflicted.

The local press has over the past few years carried many stories of instances relating to abuse of domestic helpers.

The Saudi government recently ran a public awareness campaign in an attempt to help quell the problem of maid abuse. The embassies of countries that remit housemaids, such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka, routinely deal with runaway, abused or unpaid maids.

Yes, in this case the Saudi couple was arrested.  But what are the chances that they will go to trial, let alone spend a day in prison?  About as likely as me reciting the shahada, I'd estimate.

Posted on 08/25/2009 12:00 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Somalia being 'cleansed' of Christians via murder

"There is no compulsion in religion" alert.  From Compass Direct:

Muslim extremists seeking evidence that a Somali man had converted from Islam to Christianity shot him dead Tuesday morning (Aug. 18) near the Somali border with Kenya, according to underground Christians in the war-torn nation.

Al Shabaab rebels killed 41-year-old Ahmed Matan in Bulahawa, Somalia, according to Abdikadir Abdi Ismael, a former leader of a secret Christian fellowship in Somalia to which Matan belonged. Matan had been a member of the underground church since 2001.

The early morning shooting comes at a time when Islamist groups led by al Shabaab are hunting down converts to Christianity as they seek to establish sharia (Islamic law) throughout Somalia.

Ismael, who fled the area in 2005, said he received a telephone call from Matan two weeks ago in which the convert told him that monitoring by the Islamic extremists kept him from leaving his home and carrying out his small-trade business across the border in Mandera, in eastern Kenya.

“I am afraid for my life – the al Shabaab want to get a proof that I follow the Christian faith,” Matan told Ismael. “They have not been seeing me in the mosque and seem to have realized that I am not part of them.”

Ismael subsequently learned from a member of the underground church who requested anonymity that on Aug. 18 Matan was shot dead as he was about to enter Mandera with a donkey carrying goods for sale such as sugar, batteries and shampoo. He was a father of three, his last child just 3 months old.

[...]

“We have been going through difficult times because of choosing to follow Christianity,” Ismael told Compass. “We have lost everything. We even lack words to share our feelings. I have been always on the run from one refugee camp to another. The Muslims have issued a fatwa on me.”

[...]

In Mahadday Weyne, 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, al Shabaab Islamists on July 20 shot to death another convert from Islam, Mohammed Sheikh Abdiraman, at 7 a.m., eyewitnesses told Compass. They said the Islamic extremists appeared to have been hunting the convert from Islam.

The sources told Compass that Abdiraman was the leader of an underground “cell group” of Christians in Somalia. He was survived by two children, ages 15 and 10, and his wife died three years ago due to illness.

Intent on “cleansing” Somalia of all Christians, al Shabaab militia are monitoring converts from Islam especially where Christian workers had provided medical aid, such as Johar, Jamame, Kismayo and Beledweyne, sources said. Mahadday Weyne, 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of Johar, is the site of a former Christian-run hospital.

[...]

The militants reportedly beheaded seven Christians on July 10. Reuters reported that they were killed in Baidoa for being Christians and “spies.”

There isn't much coverage in the mainstream media of the 'cleansing' taking place in Somalia.

Posted on 08/25/2009 12:43 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Genital mutilation grounds for asylum

I'm glad that the appeals court takes female genital mutilation seriously.  But their solution is exactly wrong, as usual.  The family that mutilated their own daughter is granted asylum in this case.  And if the precedent holds, then immigrants from all over Dar al-Islam now have been guaranteed asylum as well.  Katie don't bar the door, we have to let in all the female genital mutilators.  From the San Francisco Chronicle:

A Northern California family whose daughter underwent forced circumcision in Indonesia is entitled to seek political asylum in the United States, a federal appeals court said Monday.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco criticized immigration officials who, in ordering the family deported, decided that the girl had suffered no serious harm when her genitals were mutilated as a newborn.

Any form of female genital mutilation is "horrifically brutal" and amounts to persecution under established precedents in federal courts and the Justice Department's immigration courts, the court said.

The 3-0 ruling gives Bob Benito Benyamin, his wife, Anabella Rodriguez, and their three daughters another chance to challenge deportation to Indonesia, where the oldest daughter underwent forced circumcision at 5 days old in 1992 at the orders of a grandmother. The family said she has felt pain from the procedure ever since.

[...]

The court returned the case to the immigration board to decide whether the younger daughter faced a likelihood of genital mutilation in Indonesia. If so, the board must decide whether the entire family is eligible for asylum or whether the parents and their daughters might instead be sent to Venezuela, the mother's native country. The younger daughter was born there.

Posted on 08/25/2009 1:14 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Terror suspect 'hates Australians'

From The Herald Sun of Melbourne and The Australian
ONE of five men charged over an alleged suicide terror plot hates Australians and anyone who does not follow Islam, Australian Federal Police have told a bail hearing.
Federal agent David Kinton, from the AFP counter-terrorism unit, said he was concerned that Saney Edow Aweys, 26, of Carlton North, would commit criminal offences if granted bail.
Boilermaker Saney Edow Aweys, 26, of Carlton North, allegedly conspired with his co-accused to launch an attack on the Holsworthy army barracks in NSW and is one of three men applying for bail in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court today. Police allege he was involved in recruiting people to fight in the civil war in Somalia.
"We have conversations that indicate that Walid Mohamed has been directly engaged in armed conflict and has ... admitted to killing a number of people over there,' (Agent Kinton) told the court.
Mister Aweys is, I suppose (the) common theme is, hatred towards Australia and Australian people and anyone who doesn't follow Islam,' he said.
During a secretly recorded telephone conversation with his wife on May 8 this year, Aweys allegedly said: "I am going to fight, why would I not enter paradise?"
His wife allegedly replied: "Why not? Four small kids."
"There is a war going on between Muslims and infidels,' Aweys allegedly said.
"You are not going to paradise because you have got four small kids to support,' his wife replied.
Nayef El Sayed, 25, of Glenroy, and Yacqub Khayre, 22, of Meadow Heights are also applying for bail.
Co-accused Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, 25, from Preston, is expected to apply for bail at a later date. Another co-accused, Wissmam Mahmoud Fattal, 33, has not applied for bail.
Magistrate Peter Reardon has indicated he will make some comments later today relating to people not standing in court.
During previous court appearances relating to the charges, both Fattal and El Sayed have refused to stand when asked by Mr Reardon.
Their lawyers have indicated they stand for no one but God.
Update from ABC News, thanks to Dumbledore's Army.
The Magistrate hearing the case, Peter Reardon has warned supporters of the accused men that they could be removed from court for trying to make a political statement.
Two of the accused refused to stand to acknowledge the magistrate at their initial hearing.
Some of their supporters are also refusing to stand apparently on religious grounds.
But Mr Reardon said Islam was being used as a guise to make a political statement. He said those who refused to stand would be made to leave the court immediately. 
He does not quite, yet, appreciate that Islam as a political ideology cannot be separated from it's religious aspect but that he has made the political connection is commendable.

Posted on 08/25/2009 2:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Pseudsday Tuesday

This Saturday I fly out at an ungodly hour for a week’s holiday, or “vacation” as some call it. Sadly I am not going through Heathrow, and will thus be unobserved and unbooked by that airport’s “writer in residence”. The writer is youngish ubiquitous balding brainbox Alain de Botton, whose second most pretentious sentence featured in a post a few months ago:

 

We accept that museums can devote fortunes to acquiring tender Early Netherlandish devotional paintings no larger than hardback books, but we see nothing foolhardy in casually surrendering large strips of the planet to the impatient interests of men from Jones Lange Lasalle, out of a curious reluctance to concede that we may in the end be as inwardly affected by the sight of five square kilometres of warehouse space incised into the fields of Northamptonshire as by the benevolent gaze of a 20cm Madonna from the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden.

At the time it was his most pretentious sentence, but now I think it has been pushed into second place by his observations on British Airways:

On Thursday I have a meeting with Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways. It is a rocky moment in the airline’s history. Civil aviation has, collectively, never made a profit. But, just as importantly, nor has literature. In this sense, Walsh and I, despite our apparent differences, are in similar businesses, ones that must ultimately justify themselves not so much by their financial results as by their capacity to touch our souls. It would be as absurd to evaluate an airline by its balance sheet as to judge a poet by her tax returns. The stock market cannot possibly price the thousand moments of beauty and interest that daily occur around the world under an airline’s aegis: the sight of Nova Scotia from the air, the ecstasy of takeoff, a glimpse of the curvature of the Earth over the Pacific.

“Under an airline’s aegis” is plane silly. Unless he means that you spend aegis going through security, while they frisk elderly white nuns.

 

Neither the balance sheet nor the stock market exists to “price the thousand moments of beauty and interest”. A balance sheet doesn’t even price the company, nor is it meant to.  Besides, I suspect that de Botton might get a little anxious if the £200 million trust fund he inherited from his father were managed by those who judged by its “capacity to touch our souls”.

Posted on 08/25/2009 5:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
NER's Presentation in Boston

Rabbi Jon Hausman and Rebecca Bynum

 

We want to express our gratitude to Rabbi Hausman and to everyone who came out on a beautiful Sunday morning to hear NER's presentation in Stoughton Mass.

I spoke on "Islam as Religion" and Hugh Fitzgerald spoke on the "Strategies of Denial." Jerry Gordon was due to present his talk "Chelm Across America" via remote hookup, but due to technical difficulties, that didn't work out.

Thanks again for the warm welcome we received and the probing and insightful questions. For those of you who were present at our talk, but who are new to the site, please take some time to look around and to read our current issue. Our blog is updated frequently by many wonderful contributors both in England and America.

Back issues are here.

Author archives are here.

Posted on 08/25/2009 7:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
A Literary Interlude: La Princesa Esta Triste (Ruben Dario)

SONATINA

La princesa está triste... ¿Qué tendrá la princesa?
Los suspiros se escapan de su boca de fresa,
que ha perdido la risa, que ha perdido el color.
La princesa está pálida en su silla de oro,
está mudo el teclado de su clave sonoro,
y en un vaso, olvidada, se desmaya una flor.

El jardín puebla el triunfo de los pavos reales.
Parlanchina, la dueña dice cosas banales,
y vestido de rojo piruetea el bufón.
La princesa no ríe, la princesa no siente;
la princesa persigue por el cielo de Oriente
la libélula vaga de una vaga ilusión.

¿Piensa, acaso, en el príncipe de Golconda o de China,
o en el que ha detenido su carroza argentina
para ver de sus ojos la dulzura de luz?
¿O en el rey de las islas de las rosas fragantes,
o en el que es soberano de los claros diamantes,
o en el dueño orgulloso de las perlas de Ormuz?

¡Ay!, la pobre princesa de la boca de rosa
quiere ser golondrina, quiere ser mariposa,
tener alas ligeras, bajo el cielo volar;
ir al sol por la escala luminosa de un rayo,
saludar a los lirios con los versos de mayo
o perderse en el viento sobre el trueno del mar.

Ya no quiere el palacio, ni la rueca de plata,
ni el halcón encantado, ni el bufón escarlata,
ni los cisnes unánimes en el lago de azur.
Y están tristes las flores por la flor de la corte,
los jazmines de Oriente, los nelumbos del Norte,
de Occidente las dalias y las rosas del Sur.

¡Pobrecita princesa  de los ojos azules!
Está presa en sus oros, está presa en sus tules,
en la jaula de mármol del palacio real;
el palacio soberbio que vigilan los guardas,
que custodian cien negros con sus cien alabardas,
un lebrel que no duerme y un dragón colosal.

¡Oh, quién fuera hipsipila que dejó la crisálida!
(La princesa está triste, la princesa está pálida)
¡Oh visión adorada de oro, rosa y marfil!
¡Quién volara a la tierra donde un príncipe existe,
—la princesa está pálida, la princesa está triste—,
más brillante que el alba, más hermoso que abril!

—«Calla, calla, princesa —dice el hada madrina—;
en caballo, con alas, hacia acá se encamina,
en el cinto la espada y en la mano el azor,
el feliz caballero que te adora sin verte,
y que llega de lejos, vencedor de la Muerte,
a encenderte los labios con un beso de amor».

Posted on 08/25/2009 7:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
A Musical Interlude: Hacelo Por La Vieja (Imperio Argentina)

Listen here.

Posted on 08/25/2009 7:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Gadhafi Not Welcome Here

Thanks to del for this story:

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. – Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will set foot on U.S. soil for the first time next month when he comes to address the U.N. General Assembly. Now he wants to put down stakes in the middle of American suburbia.

Plans to set up a tent and allow him to stay at a Libyan-owned estate in this upscale community 12 miles north of Manhattan, were attacked Monday by neighborhood residents and public officials, particularly after the hero's welcome extended by Libya last week to the lone man convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan American Flight 103.

The attack over Lockerbie, Scotland, thought to be the work of Libyan intelligence, killed all 259 people on board the flight, including 33 from New Jersey. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was freed from a life sentence in a Scottish jail and returned to Libya on compassionate grounds because he is dying of cancer.

"Gadhafi is a dangerous dictator whose hands are covered with the blood of Americans and our allies," said U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, whose district includes Englewood. He promised there would be "hell to pay" if the U.S. State Department violates a long-standing deal barring the dictator from staying at the Libyan estate.

State department officials said no decision had been made on the issue.

Rothman was mayor of Englewood 26 years ago when the city learned the Libyan Mission to the United Nations had purchased the Palisade Avenue estate. He said local officials worked out a deal with the U.S. State Department limiting its use to the recreational activities by the ambassador and his family. The Libyans don't pay taxes on the estate, he said.

Gadhafi's U.N. appearance culminates a yearslong effort to rehabilitate the Libyan strongman's international image, which has included denouncing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. He's ruled the oil rich North African kingdom since 1969.

"This is what happens when you have the path of appeasement," Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, New Jersey, said of the prospect of Gadhafi staying in Englewood. "He's getting everything he wants, and I guess that includes a trip to the state of New Jersey, which certainly doesn't need this."

Cohen's 20-year-old daughter died in the Scottish bombing...

Posted on 08/25/2009 9:31 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Muna Sulayman's Brotherhood Roots

The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report has some interesting information on Muna Abu Sulayman, now a "World Fellow" at Yale and who also happens to control the pursestrings of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal as far as charitable giving to American universities is concerned. The influence of this on Yale University Press's decision to censor the Muhammad cartoons and other images in Jytte Klausen's book is a matter of intense speculation.

Arab News has reported that Muna Abu Sulayman, the daughter of a prominent global Muslim Brotherhood leader, was selected as a Yale University World Fellow for 2009. According to the report:

Yale University selected Muna Abu Sulayman, general secretary of the charitable foundation of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, as a world fellow for 2009. The Yale World Fellow Program seeks to build a network of global decision makers who have a fundamental, mutual understanding born of common experience and information. The model naturally fosters collaboration and a commitment to shared success. Yale University President Richard C. Levin, said it is extremely useful to have an international team working on their leadership skills. Candidates for 2009 were selected from different sectors, like government, business, non-government organizations, the military, art and media. Participants from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, China and Russia, will be sharing their experiences and forging bridges among each other. Muna Abu Sulayman is a media icon in Saudi Arabia who was a co-host for seven years on a ladies show on MBC, rated as the No. 1 family program in the Arab world. In 2006 she started working as the general secretary of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Charitable Foundation. “I am honored to be selected for this program… I am eager to benefit and strengthen my effective leadership skills,” Abu Sulayman said. Michael Cappello, director of the program, noted that all participants in the fellow program have great history of achievements. “All participants are famous for their accomplishments and their unlimited abilities to reach success,” Cappello said. “Through this program, there is no doubt that they will improve their abilities and they will be part of a network of effective leaders who will be trained at Yale.” The Yale World Fellow Program provides emerging leaders with an exceptional opportunity to enrich themselves by enhancing their critical thinking skills and develop strategic visions for their own professional trajectories and societal impacts.

Ms. Muna Abu Sulayman is the daughter of Dr. Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman, one of the most important figures in the history of the global Muslim Brotherhood. According to various biographies, Dr. Abu Sulayman was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and received his BA and MA at the University of Cairo and a PhD in International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania in 1973. His global Muslim Brotherhood affiliations includes:

  • Secretary General of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) (1973-79)  

  • Chairman, Department of Political Science at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, (1982-84)

  • Initial Board of Directors SAAR Foundation (1983)

  • Founding member of The Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) (1972) and its former President, (1985-87)

  • Rector, International Islamic University Malaysia (1989-1999)

  •  

Dr. Abu Sulayman is currently Chairman of the Board and trustee of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and its former president and founding member. IIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 in connection with the financing of terrorism.

In addition to her father’s role in the global Muslim Brotherhood, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal himself is known to have many connections to the global Brotherhood. Previous posts have discussed:

  • A $1.5 million donation made by Prince Bin Talal to a scholarship program hosted by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
  • A $20 million donation made by Prince Bin Talal to the Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CCMU), run by long-time Muslim Brotherhood supporter Dr. John Esposito
  • Large donations made to the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue (IIFD), a pan-Islamic interfaith dialog organization that is closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood.

Yale University itself has also established a relationship with the Maktoum Foundation, known also to fund the European Muslim Brotherhood. According to one report:

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation today announced it signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with six prominent universities in the US for its Fellows programme, expanding the number of the Foundation’s partner universities under the programme to 28, said the official news agency WAM. The MoUs make the Fellows programme one of the most comprehensive scholarships in the region and includes all top business and public policy schools, geographically spread across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The new partner universities are: Columbia Business School, Columbia University, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University and School of Management, Yale University.

A report by the NEFA Foundation has discussed the role of the Maktoum Foundation in funding the European Brotherhood...

Posted on 08/25/2009 12:08 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Obama's Vacation Reading, Or, Viscount Morley Would Be Amazed

Stumble down Memory Lane, please, to the memoirs of statesmen, such as Lord Grey of Falloden, or Georges Clemenceau, or Viscount Morley, whose two-volumes of "Memoirs" I have just finished, or Lord Hamilton, the  British ambassador in St. Petersburg before the Revolution,  or Maurice Paleologue (French, to ditto), or J. J. Jusserand (French, to Washington). They weren't necessarily Giants In The Earth. But they were people who had read, observed, travelled, read some more. They knew languages, and not because they had "majored" in them in college. They had been taught, from an early age, history, the history of the advanced West, and how it came to be the way it came to be, from classical antiquity, and what had been  the threats, what had been the responses, what had been the developments in legal and political institutions and social understandings and arrangements, that made the West, Europe and its North American children, what it turned out to be until, within the past few decades, when the inheritors of the legacy of the West started to forget what that legacy was all about.

Here is what Obama is reading: 

The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington, D.C.;
Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York's Lower East Side;
• Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;
John Adams by David McCullough;
Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.

One of the books, that by David McCullough, deserves to be on the list -- especially if ireading it were to lead Obama to visit the Adams family's compound (now a National HIstoric Site) in Quincy, Massachusetts, and then, having been impressed by the library, possibly have looked into John Quincy Adams, son of John and the most learned of American presidents, to find out what John Quincy Adams wrote about, and especially, happened to find out what he wrote, from both his experience and his hours with the lamp, about Islam.

Otherwise, this list reveals what everyone now knows: a degree should not be confused with an education. Obama did not acquire a liberal education -- he majored in one of those things, government or social relations or something, that is particularly arid -- and Harvard Law School was purely vocational training, and a place to make contacts, and to receive a leg up in the world. The charge made by some that Obama was merely a "community organizer" has a certain truth -- he did not, it seems, give himself an education during the last twenty years in Chicago. He was tryiing to court locals, to rise irresistiblly, and he was also trying to understand what made him, Barack Obama, tic. He wrote two books, books not about ideas, not about art or literature or music or history, not books about the world, but books about one subject: Barack Obama. Barack Obama: The Formative Years. Barack Obama, and the Question of Identity. Barack Obama, and the Problem of Race.He was too easy on himself. He was too limited. No one suggested otherwise.

What might Barack Obama have taken with him to Blue Heron Farm? 

He might have taken  "The House of Intellect" by Jacques Barzun, and that could, in turn,  have influenced his attitude toward "educational reform" and toward his amiable, but mediocre, Secretary of Education.

He might have taken "The Dhimmi" by Bat Ye'or or "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

He might have taken "David Copperfield, or, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea," by Robert Benchley.

He might have taken  -- in a reasonable concession to political necessity -- "The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass." Or if not, books by Darryl Pinckney or Z. Z. Packer.

He might have taken "The Defeat of the Mind" by Alain Finkielkraut.

He might have elevated taste, might have shamed people into reading better books.

But he didn't.

You and I may be disturbed at his choices. But think how  the statesmen of the past would have felt at at the choices made by the Present  Leader of the Country That Is The Leader Of The Western World. Think of the puzzlement, the amazement,  that Viscount Morley would have experienced, had he glanced at the updated penny dreadfuls and literature-as-sociology, of several of the titles, and the crime novel (but not the kind that Barzun or Robin Wilks would be reading), and then  the simple-minded simplistic simplifications of that total ass, Tom Friedman.

This list is telling. This list means something. Merely playing at being Dwight Macdonald, and affixing the epithet "middlebrow," will not do. This list -- in the squandered opportunity it reveals -- disheartens.

What cavalry will come riding through Monument Valley, past the saguaro cactus flexing its muscles for the movie camera, to rescue us from this calvary?

Posted on 08/25/2009 12:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Magistrate gives warning during terrorism suspects' hearing

More on the Contempt of Court (as we called it in England in my day) shown at the bail application of the men accused of terrorism in Australia, thanks to Dumbledore's Army. From ABC News.
A magistrate overseeing bail applications for terrorism suspects in Melbourne has threatened to have members of the public thrown out if they refuse to show respect by standing when he enters the court. In their first court appearance two of the accused, 25-year-old Nayef El Sayed and 33-year-old Wissam Fattal, refused to stand before Magistrate Peter Reardon.
Fattal's solicitor told the court that Fattal believed he should only stand for his God.
Magistrate Reardon promised to deal with the issue at a later date if it continued and today he did.
Three of the accused, Saney Aweys, Yacqub Khayre and Nayef El Sayed are applying for bail.
Magistrate Reardon told the court that although Nayef El Sayed refused to stand in that first hearing, he has been standing during his bail hearing.
But members of the public gallery have not.
Magistrate Reardon says after the last hearing he received a letter from a man calling himself Sheikh Haron, of the Sydney suburb of Liverpool.
Mr Reardon shared the contents of the letter with the court. It reads: "Dr Mr Reardon, The Australian Government oppresses other nations. Oppression is terrorism therefore the Australian Government is a terrorist government.
"Islam is against an unjust court system". It goes on to argue: "It's a sin to stand up for someone who is somehow related to an oppressive government."
Magistrate Reardon says the letter was also sent to the Chief Magistrate, the Ombudsman and the Prime Minister among others.
But he warned those in court it is not appropriate to use the court to make a political statement, accusing those who do so of using their religion as a guise.
The Magistrate says from now on anyone who refuses to stand when he enters or leaves the court will be asked to leave immediately and if they refuse to comply they will be banned from further hearings.
The bail hearing will continue tomorrow.
When I was a court clerk contempt of court carried a possible sentence of 2 years imprisonment, and I saw it imposed once or twice. But the past, and Australia is a different country; they do things differently there. Actually the difference with Australia is confidence that their way is best for them and I admire them for it.

Posted on 08/25/2009 3:41 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
A Musical Interlude: By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (Fats Waller)

Listen here.

Posted on 08/25/2009 9:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Prince Turki Wants America To Believe It "Needs" Saudi Arabia

Read here.

 

A few comments: 

1) No favors need be done Saudi Arabia -- none. Saudi Arabia sells oil to whomever pays the market price. End of story. There is no more need to do any favors for Saudi Arabia, or for the Al-Saud family, than there would be to offer the man who owns the gas station down the street all kinds of special favors -- babysitting, cleaning his house, working on his oldest child's college application -- because as long as you pay for the gas, you get the gas.

2) Saudi Arabia is, despite the trillions it has taken in since 1973 alone, economically weak and helplessly dependent on oil revenues. It is also dependnent on continued access to Western education, Western medical care, Western technology, Western everything. The West, on the other hand, and the advanced East, are dependent on nothing that Saudi Arabia has to offer except for the oil that it must sell. And ideally, the Western world will start to impose much higher taxes on gasoline and oil, prompted in the main by legitimate worries over global warming, and recognizing the need to make the price of oil and gasoline reflect the real cost of that oil and gasoline (which should include, at a minimum, the several trillion dollars spent in Iraq and surrounding Middle Eastern countries).

3) If Americans were banned from working or visiting Saudi Arabia, if all Westerners were so banned, if all non-Arabs or even all non-Saudis were so banned, no one would be hurt except the Saudis.

4) Since 1973 various groups of Western hirelings -- beginning with former ambassadors and intelligence agents stationed in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states, and ending with academics, journalists, businessmen of every kind - have been promoting two ideas, both of them wrong and easily shown to be wrong.

The first is that Saudi Arabia is our "staunch ally" when it is Saudi Arabia that has financed not only Al Qaeda, but a dozen other terrorist groups, and that through its support for mosques and madrasas world-wide, in Dar al-Harb, and for Wahhabi imams in formerly less extreme mosques, in such places as West and North Africa (why, just the other day an article in the Algerian El Watan deplored the distribution by the Saudis, in Algeria, of French-language Qur'ans  with the text accompained by Wahhabi-flavored commentaries). Saudi Arabia is the most dangerous of all Muslim countries, paying for campaigns of Da'wa, and Muslim missionary activities all over the world.

The second is the notion that the Saudis do us favors either by keeping the "price of oil down" or by investing in the Western world. The Saudi pricing in OPEC -- and by and large the Saudis are no longer able to move prices very much, because their own production is less easily ratcheted up or down -- is determined only by the calcuylation of what given price, at a certain given time, will maximize current revenues and the value of the oil reserves. This requires a constant recalculation of how elastic demand for oil is, the political climate in the oil-producing nations that might make them more, or less likely, to impose their own taxes on the use of oil, and if so, by how much, and so on. Saudi Arabia does not now, and never has, done the Western world any favors through its attempt to control prices. It has always had one goal: to maximize its own rofits.

And what about the Saudi hioldings in U.S. dollars? That too is not based on any desire to help the American economy, but only to maximize the value of Saudi holdings in dollars. Too precipitous a letting go of such assets would cause problems with all dollar-denominated assets (and the oil contracts are in dollars).

Saudi Arabia is the most dangerous enemy the Western world has. Prince Al-Turki is one of those who is attempting - with whatever group of Western speechwriters he has working for him -- to fool the unwary.

But every day, the ranks of the unwary diminish.

It's late in the day for "Saudi" Arabia.

Posted on 08/25/2009 10:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Arrested At The Airport While Attempting to Flee, Hassan Nemazee Financed Clinton And Obama and Fleeced Citigroup

Fund-Raiser Is Accused of $74 Million Fraud

A wealthy New York investor and prominent Democratic Party fund-raiser with ties to President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton was arrested on Tuesday and accused of lying about his assets to obtain a $74 million loan from Citibank.

The investor, Hassan Nemazee, a former national finance chairman for Mrs. Clinton, orchestrated the fraud by using forged documents showing that he held accounts with collateral worth hundreds of millions of dollars, a federal complaint charged.

But the accounts “either never existed or had previously existed but had been closed years before,” said the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, in a complaint filed in Federal District Court.

Mr. Nemazee also gave Citibank phone numbers and addresses of various financial institutions that would purportedly vouch for his financial strength, but the numbers were controlled by him, the complaint said.

It said that if officials at Citibank tried to confirm the assets’ existence, “they would in fact be contacting a telephone number assigned to Nemazee himself, and not any financial institution.”

Mr. Nemazee, 59, who was charged with one count of bank fraud, did not enter a plea in a court appearance on Tuesday. He is chairman and chief executive of Nemazee Capital, a holding company with investments in private and public companies. But he is better known as a major player in Democratic fund-raising circles since the mid-1990s, when he started raising money for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton-Gore campaign. He has personally contributed more than $450,000 to various candidates and party committees, dating back to 1990.

Over the years, Mr. Nemazee, an Iranian-American and son of a shipping magnate, has entertained a stream of political luminaries in his Park Avenue home on the Upper East Side.

For the 2006 election, Senator Charles E. Schumer asked Mr. Nemazee to serve as finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The committee ultimately raised $119 million, significantly outpacing its Republican counterpart and helping Democrats regain control of the Senate.

Mr. Nemazee was one of several national finance chairmen for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and was one of her most prodigious fund-raisers. After Senator Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, Mr. Nemazee rededicated himself, hosting a fund-raiser at his home for Mr. Obama with Mrs. Clinton as the featured guest over dinner, for $28,500 per couple.

The Obama campaign eventually credited Mr. Nemazee with raising more than $500,000 on its behalf. Mr. Nemazee also donated $50,000, the maximum allowed, to President Obama’s inauguration committee.

In the late 1990s, President Clinton selected Mr. Nemazee for an ambassadorship to Argentina, but the nomination stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after an article in Forbes magazine cast a negative light on Mr. Nemazee’s business practices, and Republicans questioned his qualifications. He subsequently said the accusations against him had been baseless.

Spokesmen for Mr. Clinton, Mrs. Clinton and President Obama declined to comment on Mr. Nemazee’s arrest.

Mr. Nemazee paid back the $74 million to Citibank on Monday, a day after the F.B.I. interviewed him at Newark Liberty International Airport, where he was about to check in for a flight to Rome, the federal complaint said.

Prosecutors charged that Mr. Nemazee’s fraud scheme began around December 2006, when he began making agreements with Citibank that allowed him to pledge collateral for the right to borrow millions of dollars. But statements he gave the bank claiming to show that he had the necessary collateral were fakes, the complaint said.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup said on Tuesday, “We are working with the authorities on this matter.”

Mr. Nemazee was ordered jailed overnight by a federal magistrate judge, while arrangements were being made for his release on Wednesday on a $25 million bond. As part of the conditions of his release, Mr. Nemazee will be subject to house arrest and electronic monitoring, the judge, Ronald L. Ellis, said.

Mr. Nemazee’s lawyer, Marc L. Mukasey, who said in court that the bond requirements were “onerous” and “draconian,” would not comment.

A prosecutor, John M. Hillebrecht, opposed his release until Wednesday, when the electronic monitoring was to be started, telling the judge there were reasons “why that would be a huge mistake.” He did not elaborate.

Posted on 08/25/2009 10:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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