Puttin' On the Ritz

A. "The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling"

Things are heating up in D.C. with scandals being exposed so rapidly it's hard to keep track of them. And as Obama's luck would have it, they are coming in tandem with his mismanagement of the economy and the deathly impact his signature achievement "ObamaCare" is having on any recovery. Naturally, the way for someone like Obama who evades all responsibility to handle this is to travel abroad in grand style, hoping once again to attain that level of celebrity that has carried him this far above his abilities to govern.

On a trip estimated to cost at least $100 million, he got off on the wrong foot immediately,

He made clear that he thinks the fighting in Northern Ireland is about religion and that religious education promotes violence. There's no other way to read
his statement calling for an end to Catholic schools in Northern Ireland.

We need you to get this right. And what's more, you set an example for those who seek a peace of their own. Because beyond these shores, right now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip of conflict -- ethnic conflict, religious conflict, tribal conflicts -- and they know something better is out there. And they're groping to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history, to put aside the violence. They're studying what you're doing. And they're wondering, perhaps if Northern Ireland can achieve peace, we can, too. You're their blueprint to follow. You're their proof of what is possible -- because hope is contagious. They're watching to see what you do next.

Now, some of that is up to your leaders. As someone who knows firsthand how politics can encourage division and discourage cooperation, I admire the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly all the more for making power-sharing work. That's not easy to do. It requires compromise, and it requires absorbing some pain from your own side. I applaud them for taking responsibility for law enforcement and for justice, and I commend their effort to "Building a United Community" -- important next steps along your transformational journey.

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity -- symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others -- these are not tangential to peace; they're essential to it. If towns remain divided -- if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs -- if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It's about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don't exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

There's no evidence to back his claim and the church has made clear that it regards these schools as a critical component of its mission.

There's plenty of evidence that Wahhabi-sponsored schools and one
Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) an easy ride from the White House in suburban Virginia in particular, do promote violence. Obama has not once seen fit ever to lecture Moslems or the school's Saudi sponsors about it or to encourage it to change.

Ismail Selim Elbarasse served as an accountant at ISA for 14 years before he was arrested for videotaping bridge structures including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in August, 2004. On the day of his arrest, he was also named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" for laundering money on behalf of the American affiliate of Hamas.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an ISA valedictorian, is serving a thirty-year prison sentence for providing material support to Al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President G.W. Bush.

Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, Director General (Principal) ISA, was arrested by Fairfax police in June, 2008 for obstruction of justice and failing to report a case of child sexual abuse involving a five year old girl at the Popes Head campus. Al-Shabnan was fined $500.

Mohammed El-Yacoubi and Mohammed Osman Idris, were denied entry into Israel when authorities there found El-Yacoubi carrying what the FBI believed was a suicide note linked to a planned martyrdom operation in Israel.

If you have any question about the texts used in this school -- and undoubtedly it follows the texts used in such schools around the world, here's the list.

Under fire, the academy reportedly deleted some of its most contentious claims but refused to make the supposedly amended textbooks available for public scrutiny. (In the original, the textbooks sounded an awful lot like the hatred spewed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He served for over two decades as the Obama's preacher without complaint from the man who thinks he has warrant to tell the Irish how to manage the education of their students.)

Nevertheless, although it was unable to obtain the entire collection, the Commission managed to acquire and review 17 ISA textbooks in use during this school year from other, independent sources, including a congressional office. While the texts represent just a small fraction of the books used in this Saudi government school, the Commission's review confirmed that these texts do, in fact, include some extremely troubling passages that do not conform to international human rights norms. The Commission calls once again for the full public release of all the Arabic-language textbooks used at the ISA.

In July 2006, the Saudi government confirmed to the U.S. government that, among other policies to improve religious freedom and tolerance, it would, within one to two years, "revise and update textbooks to remove remaining references that disparage Muslims or non-Muslims or that promote hatred toward other religions or religious groups." The Commission is releasing this statement as the two-year timeframe is coming to an end, and with particular concern over the content of textbooks used at the ISA, in order to highlight reforms that should be made before the 2008-09 school year begins at the ISA.

Examples of Problematic Passages in Current ISA Textbooks

The most problematic texts involve passages that are not directly from the Koran but rather contain the Saudi government's particular interpretation of Koranic and other Islamic texts. Some passages clearly exhort the readers to commit acts of violence, as can be seen in the following two examples:

• In a twelfth-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook, the authors state that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate (a convert from Islam), an adulterer, or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally: "He (praised is He) prohibits killing the soul that God has forbidden (to kill) unless for just cause..." Just cause is then defined in the text as "unbelief after belief, adultery, and killing an inviolable believer intentionally." (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 123)

A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that "[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, "major polytheists" include Shi'a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

The overt exhortations to violence found in these passages make other statements that promote intolerance troubling even though they do not explicitly call for violent action. These other statements vilify adherents of the Ahmadi, Baha'i, and Jewish religions, as well as of Shi'a Islam. This is despite the fact that the Saudi government is obligated as a member of the United Nations and a state party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other relevant treaties to guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

If -- aside from being a further manifestation of Obama's towering egotism and eccentric obtuseness -- you find this confusing -- I did -- James Taranto explains it for us: It seems Obama confused Belfast with Selma:

he delivered a banal lecture on American history to an audience in a foreign country, idly analogized his own country's history to theirs, and in the process inadvertently insulted Catholics, a group he has already alienated by way of deliberate attacks. No wonder they call him the World's Greatest Orator.

B. "Ich Bin Ein Has-Beener"

The Midwest's gift to America, Iowahawk, encapsulated Obama's flop in Berlin succinctly on twitter, "Ich Bin Ein Has-Beener". George Will used more words, but said much the same thing:

The question of whether Barack Obama's second term will be a failure was answered in the affirmative before his Berlin debacle, which has recast the question, which now is: Will this term be silly, even scary in its detachment from reality?

[snip]

Then came Wednesday's pratfall in Berlin.

There he vowed energetic measures against global warming ("the global threat of our time"). The 16-year pause of this warming was not predicted by, and is not explained by, the climate models for which, in his strange understanding of respect for science, he has forsworn skepticism.

Regarding another threat, he spoke an almost meaningless sentence that is an exquisite example of why his rhetoric cannot withstand close reading: "We may strike blows against terrorist networks, but if we ignore the instability and intolerance that fuels extremism, our own freedom will eventually be endangered." So, "instability and intolerance" are to blame for terrorism? Instability where? Intolerance of what by whom "fuels" terrorists? Terrorism is a tactic of destabilization. Intolerance is, for terrorists, a virtue.

[snip]

Shifting his strange focus from Russia's nuclear weapons, Obama said "we can . . . reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking." Were Obama given to saying such stuff off the cuff, this would be a good reason for handcuffing him to a teleprompter. But, amazingly, such stuff is put on his teleprompter and, even more amazing, he reads it aloud.

[snip]

Obama's vanity is a wonder of the world that never loses its power to astonish, but really: Is everyone in his orbit too lost in raptures of admiration to warn him against delivering a speech soggy with banalities and bromides in a city that remembers John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall"?

[snip]

His look is just not that interesting. And after being pointless in Berlin, neither is he, other than for the surrealism of his second term.

C. Luckily for Obama He's Lost in the Crowd of this Season's Loony Left Wing Democrats.

Maybe his bizarre views would be more startling if there weren't already so many loonies on his side of the aisle. It's always hard to pick the most outstanding but this week it has to be Seattle's own
Congressman Jim McDermott:

Rep. Jim McDermott penned a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday claiming a Joint Terrorism Task Force 'Faces of Global Terrorism' ad is racist. McDermott, a Democrat from Washington state, voiced his "deep concern" about the ad, which shows mug shots of international terrorists, and asked the FBI chief to "reconsider publicizing" it. According to McDermott, the "ad featuring sixteen photos of wanted terrorists is not only offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, but it encourages racial and religious profiling." 

A. "The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling"

Things are heating up in D.C. with scandals being exposed so rapidly it's hard to keep track of them. And as Obama's luck would have it, they are coming in tandem with his mismanagement of the economy and the deathly impact his signature achievement "ObamaCare" is having on any recovery. Naturally, the way for someone like Obama who evades all responsibility to handle this is to travel abroad in grand style, hoping once again to attain that level of celebrity that has carried him this far above his abilities to govern.

On a trip estimated to cost at least $100 million, he got off on the wrong foot immediately,

He made clear that he thinks the fighting in Northern Ireland is about religion and that religious education promotes violence. There's no other way to read
his statement calling for an end to Catholic schools in Northern Ireland.

We need you to get this right. And what's more, you set an example for those who seek a peace of their own. Because beyond these shores, right now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip of conflict -- ethnic conflict, religious conflict, tribal conflicts -- and they know something better is out there. And they're groping to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history, to put aside the violence. They're studying what you're doing. And they're wondering, perhaps if Northern Ireland can achieve peace, we can, too. You're their blueprint to follow. You're their proof of what is possible -- because hope is contagious. They're watching to see what you do next.

Now, some of that is up to your leaders. As someone who knows firsthand how politics can encourage division and discourage cooperation, I admire the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly all the more for making power-sharing work. That's not easy to do. It requires compromise, and it requires absorbing some pain from your own side. I applaud them for taking responsibility for law enforcement and for justice, and I commend their effort to "Building a United Community" -- important next steps along your transformational journey.

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity -- symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others -- these are not tangential to peace; they're essential to it. If towns remain divided -- if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs -- if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It's about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don't exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

There's no evidence to back his claim and the church has made clear that it regards these schools as a critical component of its mission.

There's plenty of evidence that Wahhabi-sponsored schools and one
Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) an easy ride from the White House in suburban Virginia in particular, do promote violence. Obama has not once seen fit ever to lecture Moslems or the school's Saudi sponsors about it or to encourage it to change.

Ismail Selim Elbarasse served as an accountant at ISA for 14 years before he was arrested for videotaping bridge structures including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in August, 2004. On the day of his arrest, he was also named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" for laundering money on behalf of the American affiliate of Hamas.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an ISA valedictorian, is serving a thirty-year prison sentence for providing material support to Al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President G.W. Bush.

Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, Director General (Principal) ISA, was arrested by Fairfax police in June, 2008 for obstruction of justice and failing to report a case of child sexual abuse involving a five year old girl at the Popes Head campus. Al-Shabnan was fined $500.

Mohammed El-Yacoubi and Mohammed Osman Idris, were denied entry into Israel when authorities there found El-Yacoubi carrying what the FBI believed was a suicide note linked to a planned martyrdom operation in Israel.

If you have any question about the texts used in this school -- and undoubtedly it follows the texts used in such schools around the world, here's the list.

Under fire, the academy reportedly deleted some of its most contentious claims but refused to make the supposedly amended textbooks available for public scrutiny. (In the original, the textbooks sounded an awful lot like the hatred spewed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He served for over two decades as the Obama's preacher without complaint from the man who thinks he has warrant to tell the Irish how to manage the education of their students.)

Nevertheless, although it was unable to obtain the entire collection, the Commission managed to acquire and review 17 ISA textbooks in use during this school year from other, independent sources, including a congressional office. While the texts represent just a small fraction of the books used in this Saudi government school, the Commission's review confirmed that these texts do, in fact, include some extremely troubling passages that do not conform to international human rights norms. The Commission calls once again for the full public release of all the Arabic-language textbooks used at the ISA.

In July 2006, the Saudi government confirmed to the U.S. government that, among other policies to improve religious freedom and tolerance, it would, within one to two years, "revise and update textbooks to remove remaining references that disparage Muslims or non-Muslims or that promote hatred toward other religions or religious groups." The Commission is releasing this statement as the two-year timeframe is coming to an end, and with particular concern over the content of textbooks used at the ISA, in order to highlight reforms that should be made before the 2008-09 school year begins at the ISA.

Examples of Problematic Passages in Current ISA Textbooks

The most problematic texts involve passages that are not directly from the Koran but rather contain the Saudi government's particular interpretation of Koranic and other Islamic texts. Some passages clearly exhort the readers to commit acts of violence, as can be seen in the following two examples:

• In a twelfth-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook, the authors state that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate (a convert from Islam), an adulterer, or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally: "He (praised is He) prohibits killing the soul that God has forbidden (to kill) unless for just cause..." Just cause is then defined in the text as "unbelief after belief, adultery, and killing an inviolable believer intentionally." (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 123)

A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that "[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, "major polytheists" include Shi'a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

The overt exhortations to violence found in these passages make other statements that promote intolerance troubling even though they do not explicitly call for violent action. These other statements vilify adherents of the Ahmadi, Baha'i, and Jewish religions, as well as of Shi'a Islam. This is despite the fact that the Saudi government is obligated as a member of the United Nations and a state party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other relevant treaties to guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

If -- aside from being a further manifestation of Obama's towering egotism and eccentric obtuseness -- you find this confusing -- I did -- James Taranto explains it for us: It seems Obama confused Belfast with Selma:

he delivered a banal lecture on American history to an audience in a foreign country, idly analogized his own country's history to theirs, and in the process inadvertently insulted Catholics, a group he has already alienated by way of deliberate attacks. No wonder they call him the World's Greatest Orator.

B. "Ich Bin Ein Has-Beener"

The Midwest's gift to America, Iowahawk, encapsulated Obama's flop in Berlin succinctly on twitter, "Ich Bin Ein Has-Beener". George Will used more words, but said much the same thing:

The question of whether Barack Obama's second term will be a failure was answered in the affirmative before his Berlin debacle, which has recast the question, which now is: Will this term be silly, even scary in its detachment from reality?

[snip]

Then came Wednesday's pratfall in Berlin.

There he vowed energetic measures against global warming ("the global threat of our time"). The 16-year pause of this warming was not predicted by, and is not explained by, the climate models for which, in his strange understanding of respect for science, he has forsworn skepticism.

Regarding another threat, he spoke an almost meaningless sentence that is an exquisite example of why his rhetoric cannot withstand close reading: "We may strike blows against terrorist networks, but if we ignore the instability and intolerance that fuels extremism, our own freedom will eventually be endangered." So, "instability and intolerance" are to blame for terrorism? Instability where? Intolerance of what by whom "fuels" terrorists? Terrorism is a tactic of destabilization. Intolerance is, for terrorists, a virtue.

[snip]

Shifting his strange focus from Russia's nuclear weapons, Obama said "we can . . . reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking." Were Obama given to saying such stuff off the cuff, this would be a good reason for handcuffing him to a teleprompter. But, amazingly, such stuff is put on his teleprompter and, even more amazing, he reads it aloud.

[snip]

Obama's vanity is a wonder of the world that never loses its power to astonish, but really: Is everyone in his orbit too lost in raptures of admiration to warn him against delivering a speech soggy with banalities and bromides in a city that remembers John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall"?

[snip]

His look is just not that interesting. And after being pointless in Berlin, neither is he, other than for the surrealism of his second term.

C. Luckily for Obama He's Lost in the Crowd of this Season's Loony Left Wing Democrats.

Maybe his bizarre views would be more startling if there weren't already so many loonies on his side of the aisle. It's always hard to pick the most outstanding but this week it has to be Seattle's own
Congressman Jim McDermott:

Rep. Jim McDermott penned a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday claiming a Joint Terrorism Task Force 'Faces of Global Terrorism' ad is racist. McDermott, a Democrat from Washington state, voiced his "deep concern" about the ad, which shows mug shots of international terrorists, and asked the FBI chief to "reconsider publicizing" it. According to McDermott, the "ad featuring sixteen photos of wanted terrorists is not only offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities, but it encourages racial and religious profiling." 

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