Los Angeles to #OccupyLA : “Please take this land in tribute and don’t hurt us!”

November 22, 2011

When the Vandals looted Rome in 455 A.D., they at least had to capture the city first before sacking it. Their successors here in Los Angeles, however, don’t have to go to such trouble.

We’ll just pay tribute, instead:

Los Angeles officials have offered Occupy L.A. protesters a package of incentives that includes downtown office space and farmland in an attempt to persuade them to abandon their camp outside of City Hall, according to several demonstrators who have been in negotiations with the city.

The details of the proposal were revealed Monday during the demonstration’s nightly general assembly meeting by Jim Lafferty, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who has been advocating on behalf of the protest since it began seven weeks ago.

Lafferty said city officials have offered protesters a $1-a-year lease on a 10,000-square-foot office space near City Hall. He said officials also promised land elsewhere for protesters who wish to farm, as well as additional housing for the contingent of homeless people who joined the camp.

A spokesman for the mayor would not comment on the proposal, saying only: “We are in negotiations with organizers of Occupy L.A.”

Los Angeles has been one of the most accommodating cities in the nation for its Occupy encampment.

No kidding. Even the pusillanimous Mayor Quan of Oakland finally had enough and sent in the cops.

But Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa (he of the many affairs and illegal comped Laker tickets) has a spine made from the purest rubber, so that he can be even more of a wimp than Jean Quan or Michael Bloomberg: he won’t just refuse to enforce the law, he’s willing to give the Occupiers what they want — free stuff! (Okay, a dollar a year. Who’s quibbling?)

Now that’s a leader for you. We have to be tolerant, never mind the brandishing of weapons, public lewdness, and sexual assaults:

Five people at the Occupy L.A. encampment have been charged with separate crimes, including a man who allegedly exposed himself and commited a sex act in front of a child, officials said Tuesday.

Angele Chaidez, 21, faces one count of lewd conduct and one count of indecent exposure for allegedly exposing himself and masturbating in front of several people, including children, Friday on the south steps of City Hall, said prosecutors with the L.A. city attorney’s office.

That same day, Zachary Isaac, 21, allegedly entered a woman’s tent and called her “Satan.” After the woman asked Isaac to leave, he allegedly punched her in the face with a closed fist. Prosecutors charged him with one count of battery resulting in injury.

Robert Holland Jr., 31, allegedly waved a knife at another person on Halloween, then resisted arrest, prosecutors said. He was charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of brandishing a deadly weapon, one count of disturbing the peace and one count of resisting arrest.

And let’s not forget blatant Jew-hatred.

But, no matter. “Free speech” is all that matters, forget the rights of the public to feel safe on public property. Forget the rights of small and micro-businessmen to earn a livelihood and who are seeing their businesses wrecked by Occupy LA. Forget everything else but the right of peaceful Occupiers to impose their will on everyone else.

Or else.

Okay, perhaps I’m being too hard on Mayor Villaraigosa. After all, he really is trying to do something about Occupy LA.

It’s called “appeasement.”

LINKS: More from The Jawa Report, Hot Air, and The Other McCain. From Jack Dunphy, an active-duty LAPD officer writing under a pseudonym: “Chief Beck is abetting the lawlessness.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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The fruits of Smart Power: Czechs walk out on missile defense

June 16, 2011

It may come as a surprise to the Smartest President Ever(tm) and his brilliant foreign policy team, but when you pull the rug out from under an ally in order to appease the guys they fear, they aren’t likely to want to play with you anymore:

The Czech Republic is withdrawing from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration at its diminished role, the Czech defense minister told The Associated Press Wednesday.

The Bush administration first proposed stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an advanced radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system was aimed at blunting future missile threats from Iran. But Russia angrily objected and warned that it would station its own missiles close to Poland if the plan went through.

In September 2009, the Obama administration shelved that plan and offered a new, reconfigured phased program with an undefined role for the Czechs. In November 2009, the Czech Republic was offered the possibility of hosting a separate early warning system that would gather and analyze information from satellites to detect missiles aimed at NATO territory.

Defense Minister Alexander Vondra told the AP that the Czech Republic wanted to participate but “definitely not in this way.”

“Shelving the plan” is much too antiseptic a description for what really happened. As I wrote at the time:

This is an utter, craven appeasement of Moscow, which has never wanted this system installed in its former empire, making ridiculous claims that it somehow threatened Russia. As originally conceived, the radar stations and roughly a score of interceptor missiles were to protect Europe from a growing Iranian threat. They represented no threat to Moscow. In fact, the Bush administration offered to cooperate in a partnership with the Russians on a European missile shield. Russia’s outrage was in fact a cover for their fear of a continuing loss of influence over their former subject peoples in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland and the Czech Republic saw this in a similar manner. They cooperated with the US over Afghanistan and Iraq (even sending troops to both places) and agreed to the missile-shield proposal. This was done not just out of a sense of interests shared between fellow democracies, not just out of a sense of worry over Iranian ambitions, but out of a very real geopolitical calculation that closer military ties to the world’s remaining superpower would protect them from a resurgent Russian bear. For the last eight years they have stuck their necks out to help us, and now President Obama has made fools of them.

And Washington expected Prague to accept a consolation prize? Seriously? Why not give them some DVDs, too?

Way back when, Ed Morrissey points out, the Obama Office of the President-Elect (1) transition team promised to “restore our standing in the world.” This is just the latest example of how that’s working out in practice.

The building of alliances and friendships between states is the result of painstaking diplomacy in which each side not only seeks to meet its own best interests, but to assure the other side that such an alliance is in their best interests, too. It’s a mutual exercise in trust-building that includes confidence that one party won’t stick a knife in the other’s back.

And like the husband who comes home to find someone else in his bed, it only takes one betrayal to wreck all that effort. As with Britain, as with Israel, and as with Poland, Obama administration foreign policy seems to be all about pimp-slapping our friends to appease our rivals, going out of its way to betray that trust, as if telling these nations “you won’t leave us; you’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Except the Czech Republic decided otherwise and left. As Team Obama pursues the “Welcome Back Carter” (2) style of diplomacy, don’t be surprised to see other nations decide their best interests are served elsewhere, too.

Footnotes:

(1) I’d forgotten about this bit of egoism.

(2) Glenn Reynolds famously worried that “Jimmy Carter, part two” might be the best-case scenario. I’m worried he’s right. Though, while reading Schweizer’s book “Reagan’s War,” the resemblance between Carter and Obama’s approach to national security is stunning.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Paying ransom only helps al Qaeda

September 27, 2010

There’s an interesting article at the Terror Finance Blog about the increase in the use of kidnapping to raise funds for jihadist groups, specifically Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), bin Laden’s North African franchise:

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

The article then goes on to talk about efforts to criminalize the payment of ransom, though I suspect that would be an exercise in futility when governments themselves can pay ransom via back-channels. Italy infamously paid ransom to Iraqi terrorists to recover journalist Giuliana Sgrena in 2005, while France has been rumored to have criticized Spain for paying ransom to AQIM. (Though Paris now denies this.)

But the real problem here (aside from paying kidnappers at all) is that this money is then used by AQIM (and al Qaeda, which surely gets a cut) to finance not only further kidnappings, but terrorist operations in North Africa, Europe, and around the world. Operations that get our people killed. In effect, governments and corporations are financing the hijackers and suicide bombers sent against us. And you can bet some of this money is going to research into easy means of mass destruction, such as poison gas.

Harsh and heartless as it would be to do so, the only way to stop these kidnappings is to refuse to pay any ransom; rather than treating the terrorist kidnappers are criminals, they should be hunted down and killed. And yes, that is in full recognition of the possible consequences.

If, instead, we keep paying, we’re only giving them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mr. President, whose side are you on?

August 14, 2010

Last night, President Obama spoke at an Iftar dinner at the White House. (Iftar is the traditional Muslim dinner held at the end of during Ramadan.) In his remarks, he waded deep into controversy over the building of a large mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. In his remarks, he made clear his support for the mosque, appealing to America’s traditions of religious tolerance:

Now, that’s not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York.  Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan.  The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country.  And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable.  So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders.  And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear.  As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.  (Applause.)  And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.  This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.  The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.  The writ of the Founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack -– from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for.  Our enemies respect no religious freedom.  Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam -– it’s a gross distortion of Islam.  These are not religious leaders -– they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children.  In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -– and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

Nice platitudes, which however include the condescending and patronizing section highlighted above. Mr. President, this is not about religious freedom: Muslims have the right to practice their faith in over 30 mosques in New York City, alone, and can build more. And it is not about private property rights (which is funny coming from you, given your treatment of property rights in the GM and Chrysler bailouts), for no serious critic says property owners do not have the right to do what they wish with their property within zoning laws.

It is, however, about the location chosen and the inappropriateness of exercising those rights at that place. Ground Zero is where a Muslim jihadist organization launched a razzia (“raid”) against the kuffar (“infidels”) for the sake of Allah (jihad fi sabil Allah) and in accordance with the Qur’an, chapter nine, verse five:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And, at the same link, verse 111:

Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.

That act of war, done in the name of Islam and in accordance with Islamic law, killed 3,000 of our people and foreign guests. And you think it’s a good thing to build a mosque there? Muslim spokesmen and their liberal and libertarian apologists demand we be tolerant and sensitive. Tell me, sir, why shouldn’t they (and you) be tolerant and sensitive toward the nearly 70% of Americans who oppose building that mosque on that spot?

Contrary to popular Leftist mythology, Americans are very tolerant, generous people. We also have a well-developed sense of decency. And we are not bigots when we say that building a mosque at Ground Zero, one that will be headed by an Islamic supremacist imam and which every Muslim knows is a deliberate provocation, is indecent and an insult to the memory of those who died there.

And what does it say about you, sir, that you side with allies of the Muslim Brotherhood against the wishes of the people who elected you? I’ll let Jennifer Rubin have the last word:

Obama has shown his true sentiments now, after weeks of concealing them, on an issue of deep significance not only to the families and loved ones of 3,000 slaughtered Americans but also to the vast majority of his fellow citizens. He has once again revealed himself to be divorced from the values and concerns of his countrymen. He is entirely – and to many Americans, horridly — a creature of the left, with little ability to make moral distinctions. His sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens. This is nothing short of an abomination.

Indeed.

LINKS: Lots have been written about this in the last 24 hours. Bad Rachel calls it an act of appeasement. Power Line scoffs at the vapid multiculturalism of the President’s remarks. Debra Burlingame, sister of one of the pilots of the hijacked planes on 9-11, is stunned by the President’s statement. Andrew Bostom quotes Muslim apostate Ibn Warraq on Obama’s Ramadan obeisance to totalitarian Islam. Baseball Crank (always worth reading) says Obama has chosen sides. Blue Crab Boulevard says it’s not a question of rights, but one of wrongs.

ADDENDUM I: Inevitably, this is going to raise the “Obama’s a seekrit Mooslim” issue again. I don’t believe it for a minute and give it the same credence I give Laredo Trutherism. He is, however, an extremely cynical, yet intellectually shallow progressive politician of the Chicago type, who sees people not as individual citizens, but as groups to be pandered to in return for votes and donations. This is also further proof that he is a Leftist academic elitist who looks down on the rest of his countrymen, those “bitter clingers.”

ADDENDUM II: As a matter of pure politics, I have to ask: Is he insane? The leader of the Democratic Party, Obama has now nationalized the Ground Zero mosque issue and by his remarks guaranteed that Democratic candidates across the nation are going to be asked from now until Election Day whether they agree with the President’s endorsement of the mosque, which is strongly opposed by two-thirds of the nation. I wonder how many buried their head in their hands when they heard the news?

FINALLY: I’ve always tried to differentiate between Islam and Muslims, because not all Muslims agree with or want to practice the aggressive, illiberal, supremacist, and intolerant aspects of Islamic doctrine. And so I have to sympathize with those Muslims who must feel their legs have been kicked out from under them by the President’s divisive statement in support of what is, in effect, the effort to build a jihadist victory monument.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

EDIT: Fixed because I had mixed up the iftar meal with the Eid meal held at the end of Ramadan. Thanks to Helen in the ST comments section.

UPDATE: The President tries to walk-back his comments from last night. Good luck with that, bub.


Medical care in the Worker’s Paradise

July 16, 2010

If there is a Hell, I think it must resemble North Korea:

North Korea’s healthcare is a horror, report says

North Korea’s healthcare system is unable to provide sterilized needles, clean water, food and medicine, and patients are forced to undergo agonizing surgery without anesthesia, Amnesty International reported Thursday.

The human rights group, citing World Health Organization statistics, found that North Korea spent under $1 per capita on healthcare, the lowest in the world. The global average was $716 per capita.

The collapse of the healthcare system compounds the misery of a population that is chronically malnourished and suffering from digestive problems caused by eating weeds, tree bark, roots, corn husks, cobs and other “substitute” foods.

(…)

Amnesty International interviewed 40 people who had escaped North Korea, most of them from 2004 to 2009. They told harrowing stories about their experiences in the medical system.

“I was screaming so much from the pain, I thought I was going to die. They had tied my hands and legs to prevent me from moving,” said a 56-year-old woman from Musan who had an appendectomy performed without anesthesia.

Emphasis added.

Many argue that we should provide humanitarian aid to relieve situations such as those described above. Laudable as those motives are, the logic is false. All aid does is preserve the criminal regime, as the rulers divert food and money to themselves and their favored lackeys, the common folk be damned. And by propping up the regime, we’re prolonging the suffering of the Korean people trapped in the North – the world’s largest prison camp.

And yet what is more moral: providing aid that preserves a nightmarish regime, or denying it in order to cause the regime’s downfall, which would have its own incalculable consequences? Is the risk of war on the Korean peninsula worth bringing about Pyongyang’s downfall (for I have no doubt that a determined Western effort could cause a collapse), or is the prospect of a war, which is likely to be short but very bloody and very destructive, so frightening that we’d rather leave the North Korean people in Hell?

I have no answer.


Obama as a world leader: not even Bush-league

January 22, 2010

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. From across the Atlantic, Nile Gardiner considers Obama’s record so far as a world leader and gives us 10 reasons why he’s no George W. Bush:

When it took office a year ago, the Obama administration boasted of a new strategy of “smart power”, designed to restore America’s “standing” in the world. In essence this new approach to foreign policy was designed to distance the new US government in every way possible from the Bush administration, supposedly hated in every corner of the earth, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Hence, the hallmarks of Obama’s foreign policy have been the naive engagement of an array of odious dictatorial regimes, grovelling apologies before foreign audiences, lamb-like timidity in the face of intimidation, the ending of the War on Terror, and the trashing of traditional alliances. But has this liberal foreign affairs revolution succeeded in advancing American interests and security across the globe? Hardly. Under Obama’s leadership the United States now appears significantly weaker and far more vulnerable, faced with an array of deadly threats that grow more menacing by the day.

When President Bush was in power he may not have been hugely popular abroad, but the United States was widely feared on the world stage, her enemies were hunted to the ends of the earth, and her real allies were treated with respect. As Barack Obama is discovering to his cost, the world stage is not an extension of the set of American Idol, and global leadership is not about winning popularity contests. The doctrine of “smart power” looks increasingly like an empty shell, a naive approach that has reaped no dividends and threatens to usher in an era of American decline, unless it is reversed.

But what do you really think, Nile?

I’ll let you read his list; suffice it to say I agree with them all to one degree or another. Put simply, Barack Obama has so far been the weakest American president on the international stage since Jimmy Carter, and I fear his administration’s ineptitude has left this nation one crisis away from a disaster. Some even argue that Obama and the left-liberals have chosen a policy of deliberate American decline. I’m inclined to agree. (Behind that link is a brilliant article by Charles Krauthammer, by the way. Read it.)

Back to Mr. Gardiner’s list, I’ll leave you with one that especially struck me as true:

5. Bush believed in the Special Relationship

I don’t recall George W Bush ever throwing a bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office or giving the British Prime Minister an insulting pack of DVDs. President Bush recognized Great Britain as America’s closest friend and ally, and placed the Special Relationship at the very heart of US foreign policy. Under Obama, the Anglo-American alliance has reached its lowest point since the Suez Crisis of 1956, a damning indictment of his world leadership. Bush possessed a genuine affection for the British people, their great heritage and their role in the world. Barack Obama cannot even bring himself to mention Britain in a major policy address or acknowledge the sacrifice of British forces in Afghanistan.

Britain isn’t the only ally to get a cold shoulder from Obama: Israel, the Czech Republic, and Poland, among others, all have sad tales to tell. But his treatment of the UK seems especially petty and personal, a sign of immaturity. The guiding principle of his foreign policy is a perverse form of appeasement: “hug your enemies, slap your friends.”

For all his faults, President Bush at least never made that mistake.


We are officially wimps

January 2, 2010

Under George W. Bush, we were the ones who gave deadlines to others: first the Taliban, then Saddam Hussein. Now, under President Obama, our threats have so little meaning that our enemies set deadlines for us:

Iran warned on Saturday the West has until the end of the month to accept Teheran’s counterproposal to a UN-drafted plan on a nuclear exchange, or the country will start producing nuclear fuel on its own.

The warning was a show of defiance and a hardening in Iran’s stance over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears masks an effort to make nuclear weapons. Teheran insists the program is only for peaceful, electricity production purposes and says it has no intention of making a bomb.

“We have given them an ultimatum. There is one month left and that is by the end of January,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, speaking on state television.

Yeah, I know our diplomacy toward Iran grew ever more feckless under Mr. Bush in his second term, but under Obama it’s become positively feeble. The Iranians know they can do whatever they want, for the United States is lead by administration even more wedded to soft power appeasement than the Europeans. And it gets better: even the French president is tougher toward those black-robed fascists in Tehran than President Obama.

This Iranian ultimatum is a joke. They know we’ll do nothing. They’re laughing at us.

There is only one response:

Oh, the shame!

(via Legal Insurrection)