President Obama was wrong “about Muslims’ historical contributions to mankind, such as algebra (actually that was the ancient Babylonians), the compass (that was the Chinese), pens (the Chinese again) and medical discoveries.”

The Truth-O-Meter Says:

Says President Obama was wrong “about Muslims’ historical contributions to mankind, such as algebra (actually that was the ancient Babylonians), the compass (that was the Chinese), pens (the Chinese again) and medical discoveries.”

Ann Coulter on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 in a column.

Ann Coulter criticizes Obama on Muslim history

Conservatives had lots of reasons to criticize President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo. Some thought Obama went too far in praising his Muslim audience, some thought he was too harsh on Israel, and some thought he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Ann Coulter had her own angle. She went after Obama’s accuracy.

“Obama listed, incorrectly, Muslims’ historical contributions to mankind, such as algebra (actually that was the ancient Babylonians), the compass (that was the Chinese), pens (the Chinese again) and medical discoveries (huh?),” she wrote in a June 10, 2009, op-ed on the Human Events Web site. (The words in parentheses are Coulter’s as they appeared in the column.)

She said Obama was ingratiating himself to the same community that launched the 9/11 attacks.

“All these inventions came in mighty handy on Sept. 11, 2001! Thanks, Muslims!!” she wrote.

Here’s exactly what Obama said in the Cairo speech:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam,” said Obama in his June 4, 2009, speech. “It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. … It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.”

Obama’s larger point is that elements of Islamic culture are found throughout Western society. “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” he said.

So, what of these inventions that Obama praised and Coulter critiqued? Was he wrong?

Our friends at already did some digging and found he was generally correct, but we wanted to address Coulter’s criticism more directly.

Let’s start with Obama’s assertion about algebra. (Don’t worry. We’re dealing with history here, but no linear equations.)

Indeed, algebra does have roots in Islam. Baghdad-born Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi is “the father of algebra” according to the United Kingdom-based Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization, an organization devoted to explaining Muslim contributions to science. His seminal work, Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala — or The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing — was written in 820 A.D. and is widely considered the first book on algebra. In fact, the world al-jabr from the title is the root of the word “algebra.”

Nevertheless, others have contributed to algebra, including Diophantus, a Greek who some historians say should share the prestige of being the father of algebra with al-Khwarizmi. Diophantus lived some time between 200 and 298 A.D., some 500 years before al-Khwarizmi. His book, Arithmetica , is significant because it prompted the rebirth of number theory, or the study of positive numbers, according to Encyclopedia Britannica .
Regardless, al-Khwarizmi’s role in developing algebra is largely without dispute. And though the Babylonians did live in what we consider modern-day Baghdad, Coulter incorrectly identifies the origins of algebra.
Moving on to navigation and the creation of the compass, Coulter is correct that Obama is on shakier ground. While many cultures used primitive navigation devices, the Chinese are usually credited with popularizing the magnetic compass, which, in its earliest form, involved a magnetized spoon-shaped stone that aligned with Earth’s magnetic field. There is strong evidence, however, that Muslims made navigation tools easier to use; an astronomer named Azarchel, for example, created an all-in-one astrolabe, a device used to determine direction using the constellations.
Writing instruments come from ancient Egypt, where people used pens made from river reeds to inscribe papyrus. However, Al-Mu’izz, a Muslim who ruled Egypt from 953 to 975, is credited with inventing the fountain pen. So, Obama’s claim that the “mastery” of pens originated in the Muslim world is in the ballpark.
Printing, however, is decidedly of Asian origins; the Chinese and Koreans developed woodblock and movable type printing. And around 1440 A.D., a German named Johannas Gutenburg invented the printing press, his most well known project being the Gutenburg Bible. Obama overstates the role Muslims played in printing. He would have been more accurate if he pointed out that followers of Mohammed were instrumental in disseminating the printed word, according to Jonathan M. Bloom’s Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World .
Lastly, Obama contends that Muslims developed certain aspects of modern medicine, which is partly true. According to the National Institutes of Health, the Greeks influenced healing practices in the Islamic world, but then the work of many Muslims influenced the ideas and practices in late medieval Europe from which early modern medicine eventually arose.
Dr. Max Gross of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding said it’s fair to say that Muslims created or contributed significantly to all the inventions Obama outlined in his speech.
“I have no difficulties with what Obama said,” said Gross.
Nevertheless, Gross pointed out that innovation can develop in different places at nearly the same time, so there is inevitably some disagreement with where certain tools or ideas originate.
He used the astrolabe to emphasize his point.
Muslims did not “create all navigation tools, they refined the astrolabe,” he said. “The astrolabe is what Europeans used to navigate the oceans.”
Let’s review this little history lesson by revisiting Obama’s words. He didn’t say Muslims were the sole inventors of these disciplines, he merely said their innovation contributed to the development of disciplines. We find Coulter is incorrect about Obama’s statement about algebra, that she’s largely right about navigation, that she’s wrong about pens and that it’s fuzzy about how much Muslims contributed to modern medicine. So we find her criticism to be Barely True.

Pres Orders Team to Pursue Terror Leads: We Weren’t Already?

Pres Orders Team to Pursue Terror Leads: We Weren’t Already?

January 9th, 2010


 you mean we weren’t already investigating terrorist leads?!

In a revealing admission, President Barack Obama said today he was directing U.S. intelligence agencies to begin to do something many had assumed they were already doing: “[A]ssigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively.”

“That is a shock because we had such a follow-up system when I was there,” said Richard Clarke, the White House counter-terrorism director in the Clinton and Bush administrations. Clarke, who worked on the Obama transition team, is now an ABC News consultant.

The President said he would hold his staff accountable but said no one person was responsible or would be fired. “Ultimately the buck stops with me,” the President said.

In announcing his review of the failures that allowed a “known terrorist” to board a flight to Detroit with a bomb on Christmas Day, the President said there was “a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community.”

The review found that “no single component of the counter-terrorism community assumed responsibility for the threat reporting and followed it through.”

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was apprehended on Christmas after allegedly attempting to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. After the incident, Abdulmutallab’s father revealed that he had contacted U.S. officials in Nigeria and warned them that his 23-year-old son had extreme views and might pose a threat to the U.S.

Read More:

Hillary was right! O fails the ‘3 a.m. phone’ test

Hillary was right! O fails the ‘3 a.m. phone’ test

January 9th, 2010

By Charles Hurt, NY Post

 Obama fails the 3AM test

Turns out Hillary Rodham Clinton was right all along.
During the nastiest battle of the entire 2008 presidential race, she aired an alarming television commercial warning voters that they would come to regret nominating Barack Obama to occupy the White House.

If — in a national security crisis — the “red phone” rang at 3 a.m., the ad intoned, Obama would not hear it.

Or he would fail to answer it.

Or he would be on vacation.

In any case, an Obama White House would so diminish the threat of terrorism that the government’s focus would shift away from the harsh and determined tactics used to protect the homeland.

Instead, Obama would turn his attention to becoming more popular in the world and stress negotiations over hardball tactics.
This attitude from the commander in chief would trickle down to every corner of the federal government responsible for national security.

Read More:

Here comes another multi-billion-dollar Green Jobs boondoggle

Here comes another multi-billion-dollar Green Jobs boondoggle

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 8, 2010 01:08 PM

Gird your loins.

The latest job numbers are out and they’re worse than expected.

Which means it’s time for another White House green jobs boondoggle campaign:

The White House pitched Friday’s jobless report as the start to stabilization while President Barack Obama planned to push for another $5 billion to help create much-needed jobs.

Obama planned an afternoon event to announce more government spending to create tens of thousands of green jobs as the nation is weighed down by an unemployment rate stuck at 10 percent. He also was expected to reiterate the administration’s call for an additional $5 billion in spending for clean energy manufacturing.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden first proposed that expansion of the clean technology program, which would require Congress to act.

As I noted yesterday, “Green Jobs” really should be called “Purple Jobs” — for the SEIU and Big Labor beneficiaries of the enviro-slush fund.

A reminder of what the green jobs black hole cost Spain:

Every “green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration.

President Obama, in fact, has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint for how the United States should use federal funds to stimulate the economy. Obama’s economic stimulus package,which Congress passed in February, allocates billions of dollars to the green jobs industry.

But the author of the study, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said the United States should expect results similar to those in Spain:

“Spain’s experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created,” wrote Calzada in his report: Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources.

When scientific fraud kills millions

When scientific fraud kills millions

James Lewis

Scientific fraud often ends up killing people. Joseph Stalin’s fraudulent “agronomist” Trofim Lysenko caused harvest failures when Soviet agriculture was ordered to follow his bizarre pseudo-science. “Scientific Marxism” killed 100,000,000 people, according to Marxist historians themselves. 

The medical truth about the AIDS epidemic, that it was communicated by anal intercourse, especially among men, was suppressed for decades, causing thousands of more young men to die. And now it seems that the global warming fraud, just one aspect of broader EcoFraud, is killing people in the Third World. The proximate cause? A doubling of food prices. Why? Because of the diversion of food crops to biofuels.

In a letter to Australian PM Kevin Rudd, Lord Christopher Monckton writes:

“Millions are already dying of starvation in the world’s poorest nations because world food prices have doubled in two years. That abrupt, vicious doubling was caused by a sharp drop in world food production, caused in turn by suddenly taking millions of acres of land out of growing food for people who need it, so as to grow biofuels for clunkers that don’t. The scientifically-illiterate, economically-innumerate policies that you (Kevin Rudd) advocate – however fashionable you may conceive them to be – are killing people by the million.”

Read the whole letter. These frauds take their toll in the Third World long before we see the effects in prosperous nations. For us the fraud is a luxury. For them it’s survival.


Page Printed from: at January 09, 2010 – 01:32:29 PM EST

The number Democrats should fear the most

The number Democrats should fear the most

Ed Lasky

Friday’s poor employment number will cause political problems for the Democrats as the touted benefits of their policies fail to pass the spin zone. The numbers “saved” ruse will become increasingly absurd as the unemployment number remains stubbornly high. Instead of jobs saved being recycled we might start hearing more about the total jobless rate – which includes discouraged workers no longer looking – that ticked up to 17.3% from 17.2%.

Many of the unemployed are out of work for longer periods of times, stoking a revulsion against incumbents and the leaders of this country that are right now all Democrats. Even the Associated Press has stopped the spin machine for awhile and showed that the hope that propelled Obama to the Presidency is no longer held by millions of people who are too discouraged to seek work. 

Even Reuters has started pinning the blame where it belongs: politicians who have injected a lot of uncertainty into the business world and who have enacted or proposed to enact policies that are inimical to hiring because they increase the costs and regulatory burden of each employee.

Who killed the jobs? Democrats.

But there is another number Democrats should fear because it was used by them and then against them three decades ago. This number is  the misery index and was used by Jimmy Carter to help him defeat Gerald Ford and then was used by Reagan against Carter a few years later.

The Misery Index is the sum of a nation’s unemployment, interest rates, and inflation figures. Given the Fed’s printing presses are running red hot and the Democrats show a propensity to profligacy, inflation looks to rise in the year ahead. Commodity prices are heading steadily higher, fueled by too much cash, and too much deficit spending. The Democrats have put policies in place that crimp the development of our vast mineral and energy reserves,. These trends are like the pig in the python – eventually the rise in these input prices will be reflected in higher prices for all consumers. A further source of anxiety should be the ever-weakening dollar that makes import prices higher in dollar terms.

The misery index now stands at 12.8%, the highest since 1991 and 3 points above its average since then.

As Business Week reported this past week:

Whichever methodology you use, the misery metric will likely have political implications near-term… U.S. President Barack Obama faces his first midterm congressional elections in November. Their opposition will surely seek to capitalize on voter discomfort with the economy.

That’s what happened in 1976 when Jimmy Carter exploited a misery index of around 13% to help defeat Gerald Ford for the Presidency—only to see it rise to more than 20% four years later, costing him the same job. So unless they can cut their current indices, lawmakers could suffer their own form of misery this year: lost elections.



The public likes to have proxies that explain a lot in a simplified form. Hence, the appeal of batting averages, stock market averages, and – in the hands of politicians – the misery index. The appeal is clear: with the anti-incumbency mood sky-high, every politician (and most of them are Democrats and they will be blamed) will face the prospect of having one simple number used against them. The number can be fleshed out a bit with a Reagan-like phrase: are you feeling better off today than 2 (or 4) years ago? Or, a recession is when a neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job; and a recovery begins when a Democrat loses his.

Watch out Democrats – it is a number that will be haunting you through November and the years beyond.


Page Printed from: at January 09, 2010 – 01:30:25 PM EST


Analysis: Obama’s buck-stopping goes only so far

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer Sat Jan 9, 3:49 am ET

WASHINGTON – He says “the buck stops with me,” but nearly a year into office, President Barack Obama is still blaming a lot of the nation’s troubles — the economy, terrorism, health care — on George W. Bush.

Over and over, Obama keeps reminding Americans of the mess he inherited and all he’s doing to fix it. A sharper, give-me-some-credit tone has emerged in his language as he bemoans people’s fleeting memory about what life was like way back in 2008, particularly on the economy.

“Yes, we can”?

Try “Yes, I have.”

While candid about what he called his team’s “screw-up” in the botched Christmas airliner attack, Obama has made a point of underlining all the good he believes his government has done, too.

“Our progress has been unmistakable,” Obama said as the new year began. “We’ve disrupted terrorist financing, cutting off recruiting chains, inflicted major losses on al-Qaida’s leadership, thwarted plots here in the United States and saved countless American lives.”

Yet every time Obama tries to offer a dose of perspective like that, he faces the reality that people live in the moment.

On terrorism, Americans are less concerned about quiet successes than troubling failures, especially one that evoked harrowing memories of Sept. 11, 2001.

On the economy, people prefer good news now, not updates on how things are gradually getting less bad.

The way Obama sees it, the problems he took on — recession, war, health care, a warming planet — were always too huge and complicated to fix that fast.

So he emphasizes progress by taking people back to where he began.

Which means taking them back to Bush.

“I don’t need to remind any of you about the situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of this year,” Obama told people at a Home Depot stop last month. And then he reminded them anyway, detailing a nation in financial free fall when he took office.

The economy now is both groaning and growing.

Gloomy employers just slashed another 85,000 jobs in December, but Obama rarely misses a chance, as he did again Friday, to remind people that, hey, remember the job erosion at the start of the year? About 700,000 a month.

That is true, but it doesn’t matter much to the man or woman who is out of work, a point Obama concedes.

He’s not just trying to give people context. He’s trying to shore up his standing and his party’s, hoping voters will let it all sink in during this big congressional election year.

An overwhelming majority of people say 2009 was a bad year for the country, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. As Democrats head toward midterm elections trying to hang onto control of the House and Senate, half of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Obama needs to show that he gets results. And so he describes a year of overlooked achievement since his predecessor left town, addressing a range of problems: hate crimes, tobacco advertisements toward children, pay disparities for women, abuses by credit card companies and many more.

In other words, change from Bush.

Except for when Obama sounds just like Bush with tough words for the enemy.

“We are destroying training camps, disrupting communications and dismantling air defenses,” Bush said of the mission in Afghanistan in November 2001.

Said Obama this week of terrorists seeking to kill Americans: “We are determined not only to thwart those plans but to disrupt, dismantle and defeat their networks once and for all.”

When Obama got heat for his government’s decision to try the Sept. 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court, he defended it by saying the justice system has handled other recent terror suspects just fine. He spoke of examples during Bush’s administration. “We’ve done this before,” he said.

Even when Obama achieves what he wants, the public doesn’t always seem to share the feeling of success.

He may be close to signing what could be the one of the biggest domestic laws in decades, an overhaul of health coverage in America. The House and Senate have passed separate versions and are trying to give Obama a bill to sign within weeks. But the nasty, noisy partisan fights have left many people soured and confused.

“I suspect he’s just trying as best he can to give people a sense that what they’ve been experiencing, seeing and reading is not an accurate portrayal of what’s actually gotten done,” said Norman Ornstein, a politics scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Obama has openly wondered how some of his work is forgotten so fast.

“I think we have been successful in averting disaster,” Obama said on Dec. 16 about righting the economy. “You know, you don’t get a lot of credit for that, because nobody knows how bad it could have been.”

On this front, Obama often chides the media for what he sees as accentuating the negative and minimizing progress. As on Dec. 4 when Obama mocked the press for saying he had pivoted back from health care to jobs. He insisted that every day is about jobs. “Folks’ attention spans are short,” he said.

Not everyone’s. Nearly 15.3 million people are unemployed, an increase of 3.9 million during 2009, and a lot of Americans seem aware that that problem is far from over.

A Gallup Poll near the end of the year found 25 percent of people — just one in four — feeling satisfied with how things were going in the United States.

“The president himself, not surprisingly, may feel quite satisfied with accomplishments in his first year,” said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. “But we don’t see signs that the American public is positive.”


EDITOR’S NOTE — Ben Feller covers the White House for The Associated Press.