Rand Paul’s Munich
... or how the Republicans became as ridiculouly irrelvant as the Democrats...
Under considerable pressure to abjure the anti-interventionist views of his father, the Senator has been engaged in a dizzying tightrope act, balancing the strong opposition to war with Iran of his activist base against the bloodcurdling war cries of his party’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment. Indeed, he has gone so far as to formulate his own theory of international relations, which he calls "conservative realism," that seeks to occupy a middle ground between the go-everywhere school of thought and the go-nowhere rule of thumb steadfastly maintained by the elder Paul.
a Case Study in Typical Media Deceit
Most sentient people rationally accept that the U.S. media routinely disseminates misleading stories and outright falsehoods in the most authoritative tones. But it’s nonetheless valuable to examine particularly egregious case studies to see how that works. In that spirit, let’s take yesterday’s numerous, breathless reports trumpeting the “BREAKING” news that “Edward Snowden now wants to come home!” and is “now negotiating the terms of his return!”
The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’
Every time there's a terrorist attack that makes national headlines, the same talking heads seem to pop up like an obscene game of "whack-a-mole". Often they appear one after the other across the media circuit, bobbing from celebrity television pundit to erudite newspaper outlet.
A few years ago, BBC Newsnight proudly hosted a "debate" between Maajid Nawaz, director of counter-extremism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned Islamist group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, which has, since its proscription, repeatedly reincarnated itself. One of its more well-known recent incarnations was "Islam4UK".
Both Nawaz and Choudary have received huge mainstream media attention, generating press headlines, and contributing to major TV news and current affairs shows. But unbeknown to most, they have one thing in common: Britain's security services. And believe it or not, that bizarre fact explains why the Islamic State's (IS) celebrity beheader, former west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi – aka "Jihadi John" - got to where he is now.
Why Charlie Rose is an embarrassment to CBS
Recently CBS 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose interviewed Bashir al-Assad. President of Syria. If you watch the replay of that interview on their web site, Assad responding to a question about support for ISIS by the Syrian people by saying, “They have lost. Except the very ideological people who have Wahhabi state of mind and ideology.” Rose (or the editor) then moves on to an unrelated question about civilian casualties without follow up to the ideology of Wahhabism.
My immediate reaction while watching this is that Rose has no clue what Wahhabism is all about. Later Asad (not Rose) brings up the Saudis and Wahhabism again. From later in the interview (full transcript here):
Charlie Rose: Can you talk about the parties involved? And characterize how you see them. Let me begin with Saudi Arabia.
President Assad: Saudi Arabia is--an (unintel) autocracy. Medieval system that's based on the Wahhabi dark ideology. Actually, say it's a marriage between the Wahhabi and the political system for 200 years now. That's how we look at it.
Charlie Rose: And what is their connection to ISIS?
President Assad: The same ideology. The same background.
Charlie Rose: So ISIS and Saudi Arabia are one and the same?
President Assad: The same ideology. Yes.
Charlie Rose: Same ideology.
President Assad: I don't-- it's Wahhabi ideology. They base the--their ideology is based on the books of the Wahhabi and Saudi Arabia.
Charlie Rose: So you believe that all Wahhabis have the same ideology as ISIS--
President Assad: Exactly. Definitely. And that's by ISIS, by al Qaeda, by al Nusra. It's not something we discover or we try to promote. It's very-- I mean their book-- they use the same books to indoctrinate the people. The Wahhabi books-
Charlie Rose: What about Turkey?
Rose quickly moves on to the next question on his list, Turkey, another US ally that is doing squat to interdict volunteers traveling through their country to join ISIS. He totally misses the key to most of the Sunni based terrorism in the middle east today of which ISIS is just one proponent, that is the Wahhbi ideology that the Saudi Arabian “Kingdom” actively promotes with its oil dollars throughout the region and inside Europe (e.g. Kosovo, Macedonia, etc). From PBS's Frontline website:
For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Culver City, California.
Does that sound like the kind of terrorism we've been dealing with for the past 15 years or so? You can read transcripts and other material here; the page is called Saudi Time Bomb. Time Bomb indeed. Perhaps someone could forward that link to Mr. Rose or the CBS staff so he can educate himself.
Had he understood the nature of Wahhabism and the threat it poses to the United States perhaps he and his liberal cohorts at CBS might be prepared to question more thoroughly why the United States is allied with it's most implacable enemy, Saudi Arabia. He might have explored this more thoroughly with Assad. But between his masters in Riyadh and Tel Aviv, there is little chance of these questions ever being asked by this group of journalists.
Unfortunately if Mr Rose is uneducated about Wahhabism, he is not alone. Journalists are much like public school teachers in their preparation. Journalists, especially those in TV, are trained to write or deliver good prose that most 8th graders can understand and deliver it in visually pleasing fashion. Understanding the content is not a high priority. Reading off of a teleprompter is a more valuable skill. Public school teachers labor under similar strictures. They are made to undergo all manner of “education training” but mastery of the subject they are teaching is low on their master's priorities. Coupled with working under vast bureaucratic managements, the end result is bored, turned off students. With a similar response by the viewing public to glitzy news programming with minimal substance, is it any wonder people are generally not well informed.
Educating the Public
I am watching the remake of the series Cosmos. Carl Sagan, the host of the original series is a hard act to follow. He had the science down right but there was a real passion in his serach for not only facts but the truth and the process for getting there. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a good job in the new series although he won't be imitated as effectively. For a lot of believers it brings up a lot of disturbing and challenging issues, not the least of which is how to reconcile the interpretations of a book written by errant men with an observable universe created by an inerrant God. Many opt to accept interpretations that contradict the empirical evidence of God's handiwork. I think there is a name for that.
Why You Should Assert Your Rights
The following was from a recent email communication from Steve Silverman of Flex Your Rights.
On Tuesday the Court held in Rodriguez v. U.S. that suspects cannot be detained beyond the scope of a routine traffic stop for the sole purpose of performing a dog sniff. The 6-3 ruling is indeed a big win for the 4th Amendment. But our old friend and former-Flex Associate Director Scott Morgan emailed me a note about why this ruling is particularly special.
Great point, Scott! Anytime suspects fail to clearly invoke their 4th Amendment rights, their defense is confined to the more difficult path of articulating other procedural 4th Amendment violations. Because of the relative weakness of such arguments, courts will often find that police acted in “good faith” by executing a search they believed to be lawful. This sets bad precedent expanding the scope of legal police searches.
However, when citizens clearly assert their rights, they empower the courts to rule in their favor by setting a higher evidentiary standard necessary to override their refusal. In other words, there’s a greater likelihood for a 4th Amendment victory – which is likely to set good precedent limiting the scope of legal police searches.
I don’t know if Dennys Rodriguez has seen our videos, but when police asked him to wait around until a drug dog could sniff his vehicle, he correctly refused. If more citizens are empowered to do the same – we’ll get better cases, better rulings, and a stronger 4th Amendment.
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