Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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This week's syndicated column:

One thing I’ve learned while researching my new, nearly finished book is that both history and news, history’s so-called rough draft, are not written by the “victors” as much as they are censored, twisted and reconfigured by what I can best describe as “the mob.”

I’m not referring to the Mafia. What I’m talking about is a mob-like amalgam of sharp elbows and big mouths who dictate acceptable topics, their narrative flow and an approved range of opinion – the consensus-makers. Defying consensus, breaking what amount to Mafia-like vows of “omerta” – silence – and delving into the verboten, is the worst possible crime of anti-mobness, punishable by eternal hooting and marginalization.

Few transgress. Which explains the news blackout on an extraordinary chain of recent events that took place in and...

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Like a postmodern-day ziggurat, the $750 million US Embassy in Iraq stands as a grotesque symbol of Washington hubris, not to mention dumbness. It is now practically approaching white elephant status, according to a New York Times report, but not soon enough. Meanwhile, things are getting ugly at the embassy salad bar ....

The Times reports:

Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country.

Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey...

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For years now, we've watched an increasingly totalitarian Europe arise in the courtrooms of infamous speech trials in Holland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, France, England and elsewhere as dictatorial government authorities use the courts to maintain their political power against political rivals and freethinkers who dare call out the dishonesty and deceptions of the State. With the speech trial today of a fabled and elderly parfumier in Paris (described below), however, we see a strain of totalitarianism that is qualitatively different but equally sinister.

When parfumier Jean-Paul Guerlain (picture above) told an TV interviewer in 2010 that in order to create the popular perfume Samsara ("blends notes of ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, and tonka bean") "for once, [he] started working like a negro," he threatened no government power structure, he called out no deception. He made a banal comment, simply not worth parsing although it's hard to resist noting that he chose the simile to convey something he is obviously proud of --  a sustained and apparently arduous effort to create something beaitiful. But that is utterly and completely beside the point: The French state here is more and more inserting itself into the regulation of its citizens' minds, not in an overt attempt to maintain political power (Wilders, Dewinter), not to destroy facts and principles that threaten its fabrications (Sabaditsch-Wolff, Hedegaard, Robinson), but rather, in the evil tradition of Communism's relentless social engineers, to rewire all thought processes down to the most trivial. It is the totalitarian effort to create the New Man.

...

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BBC Head of News Andrew Roy: More dangerous than Abu Qatada

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As readers know, I go back a long ways with Abu Qatada --hands down, my favortite jihadist ever since 2003 when he said the immortal words: "I am astonished by President Bush when he claims there is nothing in the Koran that justifies jihad or violence in the name of Islam. Is he some kind of Islamic scholar? Has he ever actually read the Koran?"

Now he's back in the news -- or rather his "extremistm" and fatness are due to instructions from on high that journalists mustn't talk about them. Might imply a "value judgement."

The Telegraph, via Andrew Bostom,  reports

The BBC has told its journalists not to call Abu Qatada, the al-Qaeda preacher, an "etremist."

In order to avoid making a “value judgment”, the corporation’s managers have ruled that he can only be described as “radical”.



 Journalists were...

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More on this story from The Guardian:

The French prime minister and his cabinet have stormed out of parliament after an opposition MP accused the rightwing interior minister of flirting with Nazi ideology.

The Socialist Serge Letchimy, from Martinique, questioned the interior minister and close Sarkozy ally, Claude Guéant, over his controversial comments this weekend that "not all civilisations are of equal value", and his assertion that some civilisations, namely France's, are worth more than others.



Letchimy (pictured above) said Guéant was "day by day leading us back to these European ideologies that gave birth to concentration camps".

After a loud interruption of protests, he added: "Mr Guéant, the Nazi regime, which was so concerned about purity, was that a civilization?"

What a fat, gorgeous softball to bat out of the park -- if only Gueant and his fellow ministers had just one single clue among them. This was the perfect moment to read Gueant's...

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France 24 updates the continuing Gueant controversy, which grew from an anodyne but heterodox remark by the French interior minister on Saturday that cultures which defend liberty, equality and fraternity (sounds like France) "seem to be" superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred (Islam to a T).   Questioned on Sunday evening on France Inter radio, Gueant insisted he had not targeted “one culture in particular”.





Wow. That was quick. But not enough. Never enough.

French Muslims asked interior minister Claude Gueant on Monday to clarify his recent statement that not all civilisations have equal value...

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French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, truth-teller and Establishment-marked man

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Silvio Berlusconi's finest 1/2 hour came shortly after 9/11 when he became the first and only Western leader to point out the duh-obvious distinctions between Western civilization and Islam -- essentially, one culture enshrines liberty, one does not -- and made the rather modest call for us to be aware of the distinction. For this he was pilloried, excoriated, heaped with scorn the world over, and beat a retreat rapido. (I discuss the episode  at some length in The Death of the Grown-Up.)

This plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face observation thus successfully purged from the political mainstream, it became the hotly controversial domain of so-called "far right" political figures across Europe, from Filip Dewinter in Belgium to Geert Wilders in Holland to Oskar...

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The Department of Defense official announcement:

The Department of Defense announced toda annouced the death of a the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

 Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus, 22, of Greenville, Miss., died Feb. 1 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. 

This incident is under investigation.

The Jackson Clarion Ledger's report:

Mississippi's first casualty this year from the war in Afghanistan died at the hands of an Afghan soldier who was guarding a joint operating base with him in the Helmand province, officials said. ...

...

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Sally Quinn thinking Georgetown thoughts ...

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This week's syndicated column:

Even after all these years, journalist-socialite Sally Quinn still embodies a Washington way of thinking – a heart-of-Georgetown, A-list set of salon-tested assumptions “everyone” knows that provides attitudes for any occasion.

Take the surreal state of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. One day, William G. “Jerry” Boykin, a highly decorated retired Army general and ordained minister, and a founding member and leader of Delta Force, was scheduled to speak at a West Point prayer breakfast. The next day, following a campaign to stop Boykin’s appearance by what the New York Times describes as “liberal veterans’ groups, civil liberties advocates and Muslim organizations,” Boykin was not scheduled to speak at West Point. “In fulfilling its commitment to the community,” West Point announced, “the U.S. Military Academy will feature another speaker for the event.”

Quinn’s reaction? West...

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