Palestinians uproot Hebrew road signs in West Bank

Palestinians uproot Hebrew road signs in West Bank

In preparation for statehood, Palestinians replace Hebrew road signs in West Bank with signs in Arabic and English, according to US aid group
Associated Press

 The US international aid agency says Palestinian authorities in the West Bank have started replacing Israeli-installed road signs bearing Hebrew script with new signs in just Arabic and English. 


The move is in preparation for a future Palestinian state.



Howard Sumka, of USAID, says the American-funded project is expected to take up to four years and cost about $20 million. 


Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and built military camps and civilian settlements throughout the territory. 


Under the interim peace agreements intended to lead to Palestinian independence, Israel has been reducing its military presence in West Bank towns. But the Hebrew road signs and some 300,000 Israeli settlers so far remain. 



Airbrushing out Mary Jo Kopechne Only a Kennedy could get away with it

August 29, 2009, 7:00 a.m.

Airbrushing out Mary Jo Kopechne
Only a Kennedy could get away with it.

By Mark Steyn

We are enjoined not to speak ill of the dead. But, when an entire nation — or, at any rate, its “mainstream” media culture — declines to speak the truth about the dead, we are certainly entitled to speak ill of such false eulogists. In its coverage of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s passing, America’s TV networks are creepily reminiscent of those plays Sam Shepard used to write about some dysfunctional inbred hardscrabble Appalachian household where there’s a baby buried in the backyard but everyone agreed years ago never to mention it.

In this case, the unmentionable corpse is Mary Jo Kopechne, 1940–1969. If you have to bring up the, ah, circumstances of that year of decease, keep it general, keep it vague. As Kennedy flack Ted Sorensen put it in Time magazine: “Both a plane crash in Massachusetts in 1964 and the ugly automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 almost cost him his life.”

That’s the way to do it! An “accident,” “ugly” in some unspecified way, just happened to happen — and only to him, nobody else. Ted’s the star, and there’s no room to namecheck the bit players. What befell him was . . . a thing, a place. As Joan Vennochi wrote in the Boston Globe: “Like all figures in history — and like those in the Bible, for that matter — Kennedy came with flaws. Moses had a temper. Peter betrayed Jesus. Kennedy had Chappaquiddick, a moment of tremendous moral collapse.”

Actually, Peter denied Jesus, rather than “betrayed” him, but close enough for Catholic-lite Massachusetts. And if Moses having a temper never led him to leave some gal at the bottom of the Red Sea, well, let’s face it, he doesn’t have Ted’s tremendous legislative legacy, does he? Perhaps it’s kinder simply to airbrush out of the record the name of the unfortunate complicating factor on the receiving end of that moment of “tremendous moral collapse.” When Kennedy cheerleaders do get around to mentioning her, it’s usually to add insult to fatal injury. As Teddy’s biographer Adam Clymer wrote, Edward Kennedy’s “achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”

You can’t make an omelette without breaking chicks, right? I don’t know how many lives the senator changed — he certainly changed Mary Jo’s — but you’re struck less by the precise arithmetic than by the basic equation: How many changed lives justify leaving a human being struggling for breath for up to five hours pressed up against the window in a small, shrinking air pocket in Teddy’s Oldsmobile? If the senator had managed to change the lives of even more Americans, would it have been okay to leave a couple more broads down there? Hey, why not? At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky mused on what Mary Jo “would have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history . . . Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.” What true-believing liberal lass wouldn’t be honored to be dispatched by that death panel?

We are all flawed, and most of us are weak, and in hellish moments, at a split-second’s notice, confronting the choice that will define us ever after, many of us will fail the test. Perhaps Mary Jo could have been saved; perhaps she would have died anyway. What is true is that Edward Kennedy made her death a certainty. When a man (if you’ll forgive the expression) confronts the truth of what he has done, what does honor require? Six years before Chappaquiddick, in the wake of Britain’s comparatively very minor “Profumo scandal,” the eponymous John Profumo, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for War, resigned from the House of Commons and the Queen’s Privy Council, and disappeared amid the tenements of the East End to do good works washing dishes and helping with children’s playgroups, in anonymity, for the last 40 years of his life. With the exception of one newspaper article to mark the centenary of his charitable mission, he never uttered another word in public again.

Ted Kennedy went a different route. He got kitted out with a neck brace and went on TV and announced the invention of the “Kennedy curse,” a concept that yoked him to his murdered brothers as a fellow victim — and not, as Mary Jo perhaps realized in those final hours, the perpetrator. He dared us to call his bluff, and, when we didn’t, he made all of us complicit in what he’d done. We are all prey to human frailty, but few of us get to inflict ours on an entire nation.

His defenders would argue that he redeemed himself with his “progressive” agenda, up to and including health-care “reform.” It was an odd kind of “redemption”: In a cooing paean to the senator on a cringe-makingly obsequious edition of NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, Edward Klein of Newsweek fondly recalled that one of Ted’s “favorite topics of humor was, indeed, Chappaquiddick itself. He would ask people, ‘Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?’”

Terrific! Who was that lady I saw you with last night?

Beats me!

Why did the Last Lion cross the road?

To sleep it off!

What do you call 200 Kennedy sycophants at the bottom of a Chappaquiddick pond? A great start, but bad news for NPR guest-bookers! “He was a guy’s guy,” chortled Edward Klein. Which is one way of putting it.

When a man is capable of what Ted Kennedy did that night in 1969 and in the weeks afterwards, what else is he capable of? An NPR listener said the senator’s passing marked “the end of civility in the U.S. Congress.” Yes, indeed. Who among us does not mourn the lost “civility” of the 1987 Supreme Court hearings? Considering the nomination of Judge Bork, Ted Kennedy rose on the Senate floor and announced that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution . . . ”

Whoa! “Liberals” (in the debased contemporary American sense of the term) would have reason to find Borkian jurisprudence uncongenial, but to suggest the judge and former solicitor-general favored re-segregation of lunch counters is a slander not merely vile but so preposterous that, like his explanation for Chappaquiddick, only a Kennedy could get away with it. If you had to identify a single speech that marked “the end of civility” in American politics, that’s a shoo-in.

If a towering giant cares so much about humanity in general, why get hung up on his carelessness with humans in particular? For Kennedy’s comrades, the cost was worth it. For the rest of us, it was a high price to pay. And, for Ted himself, who knows? He buried three brothers, and as many nephews, and as the years took their toll, it looked sometimes as if the only Kennedy son to grow old had had to grow old for all of them. Did he truly believe, as surely as Melissa Lafsky and Co., that his indispensability to the republic trumped all else? That Camelot — that “fleeting wisp of glory,” that “one brief shining moment” — must run forever, even if “How to Handle a Woman” gets dropped from the score. The senator’s actions in the hours and days after emerging from that pond tell us something ugly about Kennedy the man. That he got away with it tells us something ugly about American public life. 
Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn

National Review Online –

Liberal Fascism ( Obama )


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Closing Time   

Well, it was a nice run. But I think it’s time to turn out the lights on the Liberal Fascism blog. Alas, turning out the lights on liberal fascism might take a bit longer.
    As only the most loyal readers may have noticed, I haven’t been updating the blog much this summer. I fell out of the habit while I was on the NR Cruise and never got back into it. One reason for that might be that if you wanted to read about the themes of my book, all you had to do was open a newspaper.
    Let’s see. Off the top of my head, in the first six months of Obama’s presidency we’ve seen corporatism  and “state capitalism”   run amok, in the government takeover of two car companies and numerous banks. Labor unions have become increasingly indistinguishable from the government and the party that controls it. Herbert Croly  and the Progressives have once again been rehabilitated as founding fathers of the New Age. The entire liberal intellectual class is convinced that this the time for a new New Deal. Critics of statism are vilified by liberal elites as racists and fascists. (And those who refuse to get with the Gorian program are guilty of “treason against the planet“). When out of power, liberals lionized free speech and celebrated dissent as the highest form of patriotism. Now, they label dissent “un-American” and the president insists he doesn’t want to hear a lot of talking from anyone who disagrees with him. While the stench of eugenics and euthanasia do not quite sting the nostrils yet, the odor is detectable and the  liberal impulse for controlling the lives of others has been re-exposed.

    Indeed, our own messianic president, who insists that we can create a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, also apparently believes that “we are God’s partners in matters of life and death” and that religious organizations that are true to their calling should rally behind a united front to expand the scope and role of government.  When the head of state says such things, it is hard not to be reminded of the Progressive concept of the God State, a major theme of Liberal Fascism. The “State is the actually existing,  realized moral life . . . The divine idea as it exists on earth,” Hegel declared in The Philosophy of History. The State, according to Hegel, was the “march of God on earth.” The progressives agreed.  Richard Ely, the founding father of progressive economics, proclaimed “God works through the State in carrying out His purposes more universally than through any other institution.”

    It’s revealing, to me at least, that I wrote the book with Hillary Clinton as the stand-in for the fascistic ideas lurking inside contemporary liberalism. Here’s how I put it in the new afterword for the paperback edition:

….And then something funny happened. A self-proclaimed “transformative”  leader formed a self-declared “movement,” powered in large measure by a sense of historical destiny (“This is the moment!”),  yearning for national restoration (“We will make this nation great!”),  demanding national unity at all costs, and glorifying itself for its own youthful energy. At times his most conspicuous followers were blindly devoted to a cult of personality with deeply racial undertones and often explicit appeals to messianic fervor. This new leader of men—who earned his credibility from his work as a street organizer  and disciple of Saul Alinsky—vowed to restore the promise of American life in a vast new collaborative effort between business,  government, churches, and labor. His platform included mandatory youth service, a new civilian security force, and spreading the wealth around.

In short, Hillary Clinton, the indicted co-conspirator of this book’s original subtitle (“The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”), was defeated by Barack Obama precisely because he was better able than any of his opponents to personify many of the themes discussed in this book.

Needless to say, I could go on. And I will, mostly over at the Corner. I haven’t given up my argument. I just don’t think the argument is best served by this stand-alone blog, particularly since NR has techno-changes coming down the pike. The blog will continue to exist in the archives and if you bookmark it now, you can revisit it and poke around as much and for as long as you like.

Summing Up

    The book’s success in every respect was more than I could have hoped. Long time followers of this project will recall that the book was attacked years before it even came out. The dismaying thing is that most of the attacks on the book from the left weren’t all that much more impressive or substantial even after the attackers had the opportunity to read it (many of whom did not avail themselves of that opportunity). In case you missed it in the print edition of National Review, I did write a brief response to some of the critics who did read the book. It will be familiar to many who’ve seen me talk about the book or who paid close attention to this blog. Regardless, I’ve pulled it from behind the firewall for those interested.

    Also, in the current issue of NR I have a short item on the recent spate of “Obama as Hitler” epithets being thrown around by a few people on the Right (and a lot of idiot Larouchies). A link is unavailable but here’s the relevant passage:

The simple truth is that I do not think it is in the cards for America to go down a Nazi path. I never said otherwise in Liberal Fascism, either….

….Indeed, while I don’t think it is remotely right or fair to call Obama
Enhanced Coverage Linking Obama a crypto-Nazi (if by that you mean to say he’s a would-be Hitler), the real problem with all of this loose Nazi talk is that it slanders the American people. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen may have overstated his case in Hitler’s Willing Executioners, but he was certainly right that the German people were Hitler’s willing enablers. The overwhelming majority of the American people — in their history, culture, bones, hearts, souls, DNA, and carbon molecules — are not like that. That goes for American liberals and leftists too. The extent and depth of liberalism’s obtuseness on the subject of fascism (and much else) stews my bowels, but American liberals are still Americans, and Americans will not goose-step behind a Hitler, period.

As I make clear in Liberal Fascism, the obvious and pressing threat is not from a Hitlerite-Orwellian dictatorship but from a Huxleyan namby-pamby mommy state. That sort of system could seduce Americans into becoming chestless subjects of the State in exchange for bottomless self-gratification and liberation from the necessity of adult decision-making. Yes, there’s a danger that such a society could then be susceptible to some darker vision that lionizes the lost manhood of a half-forgotten past. But, by that point, this would be America in name only, if even that (“U.N. District 12” has a nice ring to it).

    I should note that I am not quite agreeing with David Frum’s recent broadside against conservatives who find relevance in fascism and Nazism.  David writes “can we get a grip here” and I certainly agree that if people think Obama will become a Hitler, or even a Mussolini, they need to do some more thinking. But I think this bit from David is a sort of sleight-of-hand I’ve encountered many times before. He writes:

Contra Rush Limbaugh, history’s actual fascists were not primarily known for their anti-smoking policies or generous social welfare programs. Fascism celebrated violence, anti-rationalism and hysterical devotion to an authoritarian leader.  

That’s all true, but misses an important point. What the fascists were or are primarily known for is not necessarily dispositive to the question of what they actually were. Speaking for myself, the relevance of the generous social welfare programs and anti-smoking programs is to point out that the Nazis weren’t exactly what we’ve been told they were. Sure, they were violent and hysterically devoted to an authoritarian leader, but they were also more than that and their popularity with the German people cannot be easily chalked up to those features either.

The Nazis did not rise to power on the promise of bringing war and violence. They just didn’t. They rose to power by promising national restoration, peace, pride, dignity, unity and generous social welfare programs among other things including, of course, scapegoating Jews. People forget how Hitler successfully fashioned himself a champion of peace for quite a while. Limbaugh’s counter-attack on liberals, specifically Pelosi, is exactly that, a counter-attack. He was saying that if liberals are going to call conservatives Nazis for opposing nationalized healthcare maybe they should at least account for the fact that Nazis agreed with them on the issue, not conservatives. If liberals want to have a fight over who is closer to fascism, I see no reason why conservatives should cower from that argument, particularly since the facts are on our side. But I reject entirely the idea that liberals today are literally Nazi-like, particularly if we are going to define Nazism by what “they were known for.” Liberals don’t want to invade Poland or round up Jews. As I’ve said many times, one naive hope I had for my book was that it would remove the word “fascist” from popular discourse, not expand its franchise. Alas, on that score the book is a complete failure.

The Scoreboard
    But by other measures, it’s done far better than I hoped. When the book came out, its critics assured the faithful that it didn’t matter, wasn’t important and would be an embarrassment. That is still the party line for many, but the party line is increasingly disconnected from reality. The book has been translated into numerous languages, the latest being Romanian. Reviews keep coming out on blogs  and in scholarly journals. The Independent Review’s  critique was only recently put online [PDF ] and I’m told that the journal Interpretation has a review in the latest issue. I’ve spoken to college and graduate seminars and the book or chapters from it have been included on numerous syllabi. I’m still receiving invitations to speak at college campuses about the book. Predictions  that it wouldn’t sell as well major liberal books have proven unfounded. In both the US and UK it went into numerous printings. Aside from reaching #1 on the NYT and Amazon bestseller lists and being named the #1 history book by Amazon readers for 2008, it has sold (according to Bookscan) more than 135,000 copies in hardcover and, so far, over 35,000 in paperback. The paperback continues to sell at a rate of over 1,000 per week two months after its release.  (FWIW,  bookscan allegedly only captures about 70% of sales). It’s no Tom Clancy novel, but as far as intellectual histories go, that ain’t too shabby. I don’t know if it’s one of the most important books of the last quarter century,  but I am confident it will have a lasting impact and my thesis will gain respect, even if I don’t always get credit.

    My thanks to everyone at NR, Random House and most of all to my editor Adam Bellow for their support and help.

    But, lastly, let me say how grateful I am to all of you who’ve supported the book, touted the book, used it in book clubs and sent it to relatives. Your encouragement has meant more than I can convey. Please keep sending me tidbits, insights and links to stories of the day that relate to Liberal Fascism (and if you have a time machine, please go back and send me some of that stuff when I was still working on the book!). Thanks so much for defending me and LF in the comments sections at blogs and elsewhere. Such efforts are not only appreciated but vital for the book’s long term success.

    Oh, wait, sorry. If you made it this far I should let you know that I’m going to be starting an email newsletter in the Fall, at the Suits’ insistence. Expect book updates and arguments to appear there from time to time.  Be on the lookout for announcements in September. 

    So that’s it. Thanks so much for everything and look for me in the Corner where the conversation will continue, amidst all the other conversations.

Welcome to the Unionized States of America

Welcome to the Unionized States of America

Ed Lasky
Unions will be in the catbird seat while Democrats in Congress and the White House hold the reins of government. Unions are a key donor group to the party and contribute a great deal of unpaid labor (leaflets, canvassing) during campaigns. This is the pay-to-play politics that Democrats decry except when they benefit. These are special interest groups that Democrats never mention when they draft legislation, rules, and regulations to benefit them.

Unions have already been amply rewarded through taxpayer bailouts of industries they dominate. Democrats are working on card check and mandatory arbitration legislation to help strengthen the power of unions. Obama has placed key union leaders in pivotal spots in our government – among them, the Federal Election Commission, and as head of the key Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A devoted union supporter now heads the Department of Labor.

Of course, unions have helped devastate the very industries that are being bailed out by our money (think auto companies..but the list is growing). The problem will get worse in the days ahead. The government is bound to become more a part of our lives. Most people’s experience with government workers has been unpleasant. Government is inefficient and is often run not with the citizens in mind, but with politicians and government workers in mind. Many government workers enjoy munificent pay packages, complete with gold-plated and guaranteed pension payoffs. I wrote about the problem these sweetheart contrast pose to the nation’s health last month (“Taxpayers: Eat Your Hearts Out, Suckers”).

The problem is bound to get worse, and the stranglehold unions have over politicians (and more importantly, us) will get that much tighter as more of the unionized labor force consists of government workers.

From a piece by William Voegeli on the Claremont Institute’s blog:

 In 2008, a mere 7.6% of all private-sector workers belonged to labor unions, while 26.9% of utility companies’ employees were unionized – utilities being, in most cases, regulated monopolies retaining considerable power to set their own rates. And, of course, the only “industry” where unions have flourished in the past 40 years has been government, the ultimate monopoly. The same Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 36.8% of public-sector employees were union members last year. (To put the point another way, while private-sector workers were more than five times as numerous as public-sector ones in 2008 – 108 million compared to 21 million – the number of private-sector unionized employees was only 6% larger than the number of public-sector ones; 8.3 million versus 7.8 million.) Unless the trends that have held for decades are reversed, the majority of American union members will soon be government employees.


This figure does not even include quasi-government workers such as the United Auto Workers.

Unions act as monopolies; monopolies lead to inefficiency, the stifling of innovation, bossism, a take-it or-leave-it approach towards resolving problems, bad customer relations, high costs and horrible productivity.

That sounds just about right for the Leviathan that our government will be transformed into during the Age of Obama.

Unions may very well become the 4th branch of government.


Page Printed from: at August 30, 2009 – 02:15:54 PM EDT

Giving the President Access to Your Computer

Giving the President Access to Your Computer

Larrey Anderson
Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller and liberal Republican Olympia Snowe are still working on that comprehensive cyber security bill that would give the president control over private portions of the Internet.  Rockefeller and Snowe first announced their idea last spring.

CNET has obtained a copy of the new draft legislation S. 773.  Part of the bill reads:

(B) may, if the President finds it necessary
for the national defense and security, and in co-
ordination with relevant industry sectors, direct
the national response to the cyber threat and
the timely restoration of the affected critical in-
frastructure information system or network;
 (3) shall, in coordination with various critical
infrastructure industry sectors, develop detailed
cyber emergency response and restoration plans for
each critical infrastructure industry sector;
 (4) shall, through the appropriate department
or agency, review critical functions that would be
needed after a cybersecurity attack and develop a
strategy for the acquisition, storage, and periodic re-
placement of equipment to support those functions;
 (5) shall direct the periodic mapping of Federal
Government and United States critical infrastruc-
ture information systems or networks, and shall de-
velop metrics to measure the effectiveness of the  
mapping process;
 (B) may, if the President finds it necessary
for the national defense and security, and in co-
ordination with relevant industry sectors, direct
the national response to the cyber threat and
the timely restoration of the affected critical in-
frastructure information system or network;
(3) shall, in coordination with various critical
infrastructure industry sectors, develop detailed  
cyber emergency response and restoration plans for
each critical infrastructure industry sector;
(4) shall, through the appropriate department
or agency, review critical functions that would be
needed after a cybersecurity attack and develop a
strategy for the acquisition, storage, and periodic replacement of equipment to support those functions;
 (5) shall direct the periodic mapping of Federal
Government and United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks, and shall develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of the mapping process;

In short, the federal government would be given the power to have direct access to all of our records (in the guise of protecting them from being destroyed.)

Here is my advice:  buy an extra hard drive and kill this god-awful legislation. Now.

Page Printed from: at August 30, 2009 – 02:13:37 PM EDT