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Islamism supersized? Well, almost …

I'm a bit late in catching up on the story, but it seems that plans for a proposed London mega-mosque—capable of accommodating some 70,000 of the worshippers near the site of the 2012 Olympic village—have been blocked.

The Telegraph reported last month:

Ruth Kelly's Whitehall department is expected to refuse planning permission for the London Markaz, which would be the biggest religious building in Britain with room for 70,000 worshippers.

Backers want the £300 million mosque, in east London, to serve as a reception centre for athletes and fans from Islamic countries during the 2012 games.

The group behind the plans is Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary sect whose charitable trust, Anjuman-e-Islahul Muslimeen, has owned the 18-acre site since 1996. Tablighi Jamaat was called "an ante-chamber for fundamentalism" by French security services. Two of the July 7 London suicide bombers are believed to have attended one of its mosques.

The CBN report (video above) will give you an idea what the fuss was all about.

Tablighi Jamaat, meanwhile, has been linked to the murder of Bob Woolmer, the coach of Pakistan's national cricket team.

From OutlookIndia.com:

Did Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer's criticism of the growing influence of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan, a jihadi organisation, on many players of the Pakistani cricket team contribute to his brutal murder after Pakistan lost to Ireland in the current World Cup Cricket Tournament in the West Indies?

Coinciding with the inauguration of the tournament, Amir Mir, the well-known Pakistani journalist, had written a disturbing article on the growing influence of the TJ on many members of the Pakistani cricket team and its negative impact on the performance of the team in recent years. His article did not receive the attention it deserved.

Though apparently Tablighi Jamaat wasn't radical enough for convicted shoebomber Richard Reid, it looks like a pretty nasty group.

All in all, I'd have to say it's a good thing the mega-mosque won't be built.

Posted by Rodger on March 31, 2007 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


The West held hostage: Day 7

Another day, another propaganda video.

(I hardly need to point out that using prisoners for propaganda purposes and coercing "confessions" like the one above violates the rules of the Geneva Conventions. So where's the outrage? And what does the United Nations do when a country—other than the U.S. or Israel—mistreats its prisoners of war? It expresses its "wish to see an early resolution" of the crisis.)

Historian Arthur Herman has an excellent column about the sailors' kidnapping in today's New York Post:

The capture of 15 British sailors should serve as a warning. Nations cannot "opt out" of their responsibilities in the War on Terror when they feel it, like players in a pickup basketball game or cricket match.

Enemies like the mullahs and their terrorist allies recognize no time outs, no neutral ground. They see only strength and weakness, those nations they can manipulate and those they have to fear. Today they clearly feel they can pull the British lion's tail with impunity.

If the hostages are finally released unharmed, it will have a lot more to do with the presence of two American carrier groups off the Iranian coast than anything Blair is doing—and the British will have learned that what they really lost when they gave up their fleet and abandoned the fight in Iraq is their own self-respect.

So much for "Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:/Britons never will be slaves."

Listen and weep.


Posted by Rodger on March 30, 2007 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Iranian hostage crisis (v. 2.0): Day 6

What at first appeared to be a relatively minor incident now seems to have turned into a full-blown standoff, with no resolution in sight. (See Iran's propaganda video above.)

Let's hope this time around we don't have to wait for an election (either in the UK or the US) to end the stalemate.

Posted by Rodger on March 29, 2007 at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

About those "blogs" …


The AP's Ben Feller has a story today about President Bush's reference (in a speech before the National Cattlemen's Beef Association) to the Fadhil brothers' blog, Iraq the Model.

Although it's nice to see Iraqi bloggers finally get the credit they deserve for reporting news the MSM won't touch, for me the real interest of the story was this description—plainly for the benefit of those just back from a five-year field study of titan beetles in the Amazon—of the blogosphere:

Blogs are Web sites that tend to be narrow in focus and directed at a niche audience. Most operate without editors and give instant reaction to the news. Their freewheeling, open nature makes them popular but also ripe for unverified statements.

Is it fair to describe, say, Glenn Reynolds' or Hugh Hewitt's readers as a niche audience? And most bloggers strike me as considerably more eclectic in their interests than their MSM counterparts. Did the reporter actually bother to look at some blogs to verify his claims? Or is he just relying on what he reads in, say, Editor & Publisher? What's more, if both the audience and subject matter of blogs are so narrow, how can Mr. Feller also describe them as popular? (Maybe his editor, like so many nowadays, was asleep at the switch.)

All in all, the curious little digression put me in mind of a Dr. Evil monologue. You can almost see the finger quotes around the words "blogs" and "Web."

Somewhere in a secret underground newsroom, an editor is crying: "Throw me a frickin' bone here … I'm the boss! I need the info!"

Posted by Rodger on March 29, 2007 at 12:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Senate votes and the vigorish


For some years now, I've predicted that the big growth industries of the future are tattoo removal, 11th-hour retirement planning and gay divorce.*

You don't have to be much of a visionary to see I'm right. You just need to have lived through the past ten or fifteen years with your eyes open. The odds are stacked in my favor. It's akin what bookies call the vigorish, (or usually just the "vig").

Some predictions are like that: Half the teams in Major League Baseball will play better than .500 ball this coming season. A tornado will rip through a trailer park some time in the next few months. The next American Idol will be female. (Okay, I'm going out on a limb but not by much.)

Now, as I write this, the World's Most Deliberative Body is deciding whether or not to follow the House of Representatives in setting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. I'm not even going to bother wagering a guess on the outcome. It's way too close to call.**

But here's something I will predict: If the Democrats do vote to set a timetable, if they use their "mandate" to force the White House and the Pentagon to start pulling back from Iraq, if they force a retreat from the Bush doctrine of preemptive war—we'll be back. And back a lot sooner than we were after the first Gulf War.

Why? Because, even if we fold our tent in Iraq and go home, our enemies won't. And, unlike Vietnam, where we could withdraw from the battlefield with relative impunity, this isn't a corner of the world where America has only minimal strategic interests. Nor is it a region where folks easily forgive and forget.

Few people could have predicted the first 9/11. But any Tom, Dick or Harry can predict the next. Particularly, when we've just shown our enemies how little stomach we have for the fight.

The Iraq War—and the broader War on Terror—won't be over when we bring our troops home. The War will be over when the values of democracy, human rights, free markets and rule of law prevail around the globe and Islamist ideology is no longer a threat to world peace. (Any other outcome is too horrifying to contemplate.)

That's my prediction. But, trust me, it's not much of a wager.

*Actually, I owe John Waters the gay divorce prediction. But I'm pretty sure he stole tattoo removal from me.

** As it turned out, the Senate voted 50-48 for withdrawal.

Posted by Rodger on March 27, 2007 at 07:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Useful idiot watch: Craig Murray

I'm starting a new feature here at This Isn't Writing, It's Typing—a watch on the useful idiots who aid and abet the enemies of freedom.

One recent example is former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray.

Having been removed from his post by the Foreign Office, Mr. Murray abandoned government service to become a full-time advocate for the Islamist cause in Britain. ("They accused me of being an alcoholic," he writes, "but you can't serve as a foreign diplomat without being occasionally hungover, and I certainly didn't drink any more than many very senior colleagues…. And I'm quite enjoying myself now. Being a dissident is quite fun.")

Yes, quite. Consider, for example, this "fun" headline from the Islamic Republic New Agency (IRNA) of Iran: "Iran's Arrest of British Sallors Was Legitimate, Says Former UK Envoy."

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray Monday supported Iran's decision to arrest 15 UK marines in the Persian Gulf last week.

"In international law the Iranian government were not out of order in detaining foreign military personnel in waters to which they have a legitimate claim," Murray said, who was also a previous head of Foreign Office's maritime section, carrying out negotiations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"For the Royal Navy, to be interdicting shipping within the twelve mile limit of territorial seas in a region they know full well is subject to maritime boundary dispute, is unnecessarily provocative," he said.

The former envoy said that this was "especially true as apparently they were not looking for weapons but for smuggled vehicles attempting to evade car duty."

"What has the evasion of Iranian or Iraqi taxes go to do with the Royal Navy?" he questioned in comments on his webpage, set up after he was sacked from his post in 2004 after criticizing British foreign policy….

He criticized the "ridiculous logic" of Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying he was creating a mess that "gets us further into trouble." The Daily Mirror, which has been an outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, reminded its readers Monday that "if the UK had never joined the disastrous invasion of Iraq, the 15 would not have been put in a position where they could be seized."
In its editorial on the incident, it also said that "US threats in the recent past to launch military strikes on Iran have inflamed tensions."

I'm sure the families of the 15 sailors now being held hostage (by what Murray himself admits are a bunch of "theocratic nutters") must be delighted that a former UK ambassador has offered his seal of approval for the unlawful seizure of a British vessel patrolling Iraqi waters.

Not surprisingly, Murray shrugs off the danger of Iran's nuclear program, saying—in what has become a commonplace of left-wing invective—that the real threat to international security is Britain's own nuclear arsenal.

"Step by step," he writes, "Iran is being set up for war. What difference does the provocation make? [My emphasis.] The determination to consolidate the oil reserves in the Caspian Basin was made more than a decade ago and is clearly articulated in the policy papers produced by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) The Bush administration is one small province away from realizing the its dream of controlling the world’s most valued resource. [Hmmm ….  But wouldn't we also have to conquer that pesky little province called Russia?] They won’t let that opportunity pass them by."

Posted by Rodger on March 27, 2007 at 09:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


"Even those who may be very empathetic might question …"

I've never been a fan of John Edwards, but this was painful to watch.

And I fear the questions are only going to get worse.

Posted by Rodger on March 26, 2007 at 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Battle of the vile


Over at hughhewitt.com, Dean Barnett—the blogosphere's most consistently intelligent voice—poses a question that's been bothering him for quite some time: Why are so many blog comments so incredibly vile?

I think it’s because commenting on blogs allows a freedom that virtually no other form of communication offers. It’s a way of sending a primal scream out to the universe that goes completely unanswered.

One thing’s for sure – people who make vile comment on blogs feel uniquely uninhibited. Take those HuffPo comments we discussed yesterday regarding Tony Snow. I frankly doubt that the commenters who wished Snow a speedy death would feel comfortable uttering the same sentiment in literally any other forum. They wouldn’t dare make such a disgusting remark at their dinner table surrounded by their wife and children.

There’s a parallel track to these comments, and it’s the hate-mail that bloggers and other political writers receive. I don’t mean to brag, but I can count the truly vile messages that I’ve received in all the time I’ve been doing this on only one hand. Other bloggers claim to get many more such missives, and I take them at the word.

Why do I get so much less hate-mail? Surely it can’t all be because I’m so much more lovable than all other bloggers. Although, let’s be frank – that obviously has something to do with it. Just kidding. I think the explanation is because it’s pretty well known that not only do I read all my email, I respond to the vast majority of messages I receive. In other words, sending me an angry email isn’t a shout into the wilderness that will go unanswered. It will initiate a dialogue with another human being, a human being who may well answer the most obscene and offensive missives publicly.

I agree with Dean that the combination of anonymity and minimal likelihood of confrontation are the reason moral defectives tend to gravitate to comment boards.

I wonder, though, whether these people are even the sort inclinded to family mealtimes and thoughtful dinner table conversation. I picture these miscreants skulking back to some shabby studio apartment after a long day of downloading porn on their employer's dime. There, as they slurp a container of microwaved Ramen noodles, they spew forth the uncensored political fantasies of their deformed  imaginations.

If they had wives and children to feed and worry about, perhsps they wouldn't have either the time or inclination to delight in another human being's medical misfortunes.

Posted by Rodger on March 25, 2007 at 06:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Mayor Ravenstahl's truth problem

Pittsburgh's Boy Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, has developed an unfortunate habit of lying to the media:

I had a discussion with a Tribune-Review reporter at which time he asked me if I went on business to New York with the Penguins [actually team owner, Ron Burkle], at which time I said "no." Certainly, I wish I would have clarified it and continued to answer the question from there, but it was the only question asked and, uh, we went our separate ways. But if I could have been more clear at that point it would have been in everybody's best interest, mine included, at this point….

[Translation: "See, you asked if I went to New York 'on business,' and, see, technically, I wasn't 'on business,' I was actually sucking up to a Democratic Party king-maker.]

The issue here is whether Ravenstahl violated the city's Code of Conduct, which states:

No public official, City employee or agent of the City shall solicit or accept from an
interested party, nor shall an interested party offer or give anything of value to a public
official, City employee or agent, subject to the following exceptions:

  1. Gifts from direct family members;
  2. Non-pecuniary awards publicly presented, in recognition of public service;
  3. An occasional non-pecuniary gift of nominal value;
  4. Complimentary travel for official purposes;
  5. Admissions to charitable, civic, political or other public events;
  6. Admissions to cultural or athletic events not to exceed $250.00 per calendar
    year in the aggregate and $100.00 per calendar year from any single person,
    agent or other interested party; or
  7. Complimentary meals and/or refreshments.

Since the only exception that would seem to apply is #4—and the Mayor made it clear that the trip wasn't "on business"—it's hard to see how he hasn't violated the Code of Conduct.

Which reaises a number of interesting questions:

  • How can the Boy Mayor expect other city employees to adhere to the Code of Conduct when he open flauts it himself?
  • Why is the Mayor running unopposed for re-election?
  • Why has no major media outlet in Pittsburgh called for the Mayor's resignation?

Ah, the mysteries of Pittsburgh …

HT: Steve Maloney

Posted by Rodger on March 24, 2007 at 02:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Why 2008 won't be like 1964

It's every campaign manager's wet dream: A single, devastating television spot that, overnight, changes the dynamic of the race and makes voters rethink your opponent's viability.

It happened, of course, in 1964, with the infamous "Daisy Girl" ad (above), produced for the Johnson campaign by the legendary Tony Schwartz. The 30-second commercial aired only one time—though everyone seems to remember having watched it—and it effectively torpedoed Barry Goldwater's hopes for the presidency. "Daisy Girl" became the first viral meme of the television era.

The "1984" YouTube ad looked to repeat that political perfect storm

Like "Daisy Girl," it took an opponent's weakness (Goldwater's reckless bellicosity, Clinton's rhetorical banality) and amplified it a hundredfold. What's more, it did so in a way designed to generate weeks of conversation around the water cooler (or the espresso bar).

But—in the fishbowl environment of Web 2.0 politics—2008's version of "Daisy Girl" has generated potentially fatal blowback for its creators.

The Internet video sensation that targeted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton now has rival Sen. Barack Obama on the spot.

Heralded by many as the embodiment of Web-driven citizen activism, the mysterious YouTube ad now stands revealed as the work of a Democratic operative employed by a consulting firm with Obama links.

"It's true ... yeah, it's me," said Philip de Vellis, a 33-year-old strategist with Blue State Digital, a Washington company that advises Democratic candidates and liberal groups.

Blue State designed Obama's Web site, and one of the firm's founding members, Joe Rospars, took a leave from the company to work as Obama's director of new media.

Obama, Blue State and de Vellis all say de Vellis acted on his own. De Vellis left the company on Wednesday. He said he resigned; Thomas Gensemer, the firm's managing director, said he was fired.

The entire episode hangs a cloud over the Obama camp.

Suddenly the fresh face of 2008—the one Joe Biden infamously described as "clean"—is starting to look like the face of an old pol (and a not-s0-clean one at that).

And that's why 2008 won't be like 1964.

Posted by Rodger on March 22, 2007 at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)