Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tawriya: Islamic Doctrine of ‘Creative Lying’

Posted By Raymond Ibrahim On February 29, 2012 @ 12:18 am

The following article was originally published by the Stonegate Institute.
Perhaps you have heard of taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances, primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority. Now meet tawriya, a doctrine that allows lying in virtually all circumstances—including to fellow Muslims and by swearing to Allah—provided the liar is creative enough to articulate his deceit in a way that is true to him. (Though tawriya is technically not “new”—as shall be seen, it has been part of Islamic law and tradition for centuries—it is certainly new to most non-Muslims, hence the need for this exposition and the word “new” in the title.)
The authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary defines tawriya as, “hiding, concealment; dissemblance, dissimulation, hypocrisy; equivocation, ambiguity, double-entendre, allusion.” Conjugates of the trilateral root of the word, w-r-y, appear in the Quran in the context of hiding or concealing something (e.g., 5:31, 7:26).
As a doctrine, “double-entendre” best describes tawriya’s function. According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker says something that means one thing to the listener, though the speaker means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.
For example, if someone declares “I don’t have a penny in my pocket,” most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him—though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies. Likewise, say a friend asks you, “Do you know where Mike is?” You do, but prefer not to divulge. So you say “No, I don’t know”—but you keep in mind another Mike, whose whereabouts you really do not know.
All these are legitimate according to Sharia law and do not constitute “lying,” which is otherwise forbidden in Islam, except in three cases: lying in war, lying to one’s spouse, and lying in order to reconcile people. For these, Sharia permits Muslims to lie freely, without the strictures of tawriya, that is, without the need for creativity.
As for all other instances, in the words of Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajid (based on scholarly consensus): “Tawriya is permissible under two conditions: 1) that the words used fit the hidden meaning; 2) that it does not lead to an injustice” (“injustice” as defined by Sharia, of course, not Western standards). Otherwise, it is permissible even for a Muslim to swear when lying through tawriya. Munajid, for example, cites a man who swears to Allah that he can only sleep under a roof (saqf); when the man is caught sleeping atop a roof, he exonerates himself by saying “by roof, I meant the open sky.” This is legitimate. “After all,” Munajid adds, “Quran 21:32 refers to the sky as a roof [saqf].”
Here is a recent example of tawriya in action: Because it is a “great sin” for Muslims to acknowledge Christmas, this sheikh counsels Muslims to tell Christians, “I wish you the best,” whereby the latter might “understand it to mean you’re wishing them best in terms of their [Christmas] celebration.” But—here the wily sheikh giggles as he explains—“by saying I wish you the best, you mean in your heart I wish you become a Muslim.”
As with most Muslim practices, tawriya is traced to Islam’s prophet. After insisting Muslims “need” tawriya because it “saves them from lying,” and thus sinning, Sheikh Uthman al-Khamis adds that Muhammad often used it. Indeed, Muhammad is recorded saying “Allah has commanded me to equivocate among the people inasmuch as he has commanded me to establish [religious] obligations”; and “I have been sent with obfuscation”; and “whoever lives his life in dissimulation dies a martyr” (Sami Mukaram, Al Taqiyya Fi Al Islam, London: Mu’assisat al-Turath al-Druzi, 2004, p. 30).
More specifically, in a canonical hadith, Muhammad said: “If any of you ever pass gas or soil yourselves during prayers [breaking wudu], hold your nose and leave” (Sunan Abu Dawud): Holding one’s nose and leaving implies smelling something offensive—which is true—though people will think it was someone else who committed the offense.
Following their prophet’s example, many leading Muslim figures have used tawriya, such as Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, founder of one of Islam’s four schools of law, practiced in Saudi Arabia. Once when he was conducting class, someone came knocking, asking for one of his students. Imam Ahmed answered, “He’s not here, what would he be doing here?”—all the time pointing at his hand, as if to say “he’s not in my hand.” The caller, who could not see Ahmed, assumed the student was simply not there.
Also, Sufyan al-Thawri, another important Muslim thinker, was once brought to Caliph Mahdi who refused to let him leave, until Thawri swore to return. As he was going out, Thawri left his sandals by the door. After a while, he returned, took his sandals and left for good. When the caliph asked about him, he was told that, yes, Thawri had sworn to come back—and, indeed, he had come back: only to take his sandals and leave.
Lest it seem tawriya is limited to a few colorful anecdotes more befitting the Arabian Nights than the religious law (Sharia) of a billion people, here are some more modern Muslim authorities—Sheikh Muhammad Hassan, the famous cleric who says Islam forbids Muslims from smiling to infidels, except when advantageous, and Dr. Abdullah Shakir—justifying it. They both give the example of someone knocking on your door, you do not wish to see them, so a relative answers the door saying, “He’s not here,” and by “here” they mean the immediate room, which is true, since you will be hiding in another room.
Likewise, on the popular Islam Web, where Muslims submit questions and Islamic authorities respond with a fatwa, a girl poses her moral dilemma: her father has explicitly told her that, whenever the phone rings, she is to answer saying “he’s not here.” The fatwa solves her problem: she is free to lie, but when she says “he’s not here,” she must mean he is not in the same room, or not directly in front of her.
Of course, while all the sheikhs give examples that are innocuous and amount to “white” lies, tawriya can clearly be used to commit terrible, “black” lies, especially where the adversarial non-Muslim infidel is concerned. As Sheikh al-Munajid puts it: “Tawriya is permissible if it is necessary or serves a Sharia interest.” Consider the countless “Sharia interests” that run directly counter to Western civilization and law, from empowering Islam to subjugating infidels. To realize these, Muslims, through tawriya, are given a blank check to lie—a check that surely comes in handy; not just in trivial occasions, like avoiding unwanted callers, but momentous ones, such as at high-level diplomatic meetings where major treaties are forged.
Note: The purpose of this essay was to document and describe the doctrine of tawriya. Future writings will analyze its full significance—from what it means for a Muslim to believe the Supreme Being advocates such lying, to how tawriya is liable to suppress one’s conscience to the point of passing a lie detector test—as well as compare and contrast it with the practices of other religions, and more.

Obama to Force Military Into ObamaCare Exchanges and Slash Healthcare Benefits

Posted By Wynton Hall On February 28, 2012 @ 8:51 am

The Obama Administration plans to force active duty service members and veterans off the military’s current health care plan, Tricare, and into ObamaCare’s state-run healthcare exchanges by increasing Tricare premiums between 30 percent to 78 percent the first year and a crushing 94 percent to 345 percent every five years thereafter.

Obama’s plan, which is sparking a major controversy within the Pentagon, is set to go into effect after the 2012 presidential election and will not apply to unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits.
The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz reports that, “According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048,” thereby all but guaranteeing service members and vets will be forced to enter ObamaCare.
Sources close to the controversy fear the radical healthcare restructuring will significantly hurt military recruitment:
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
The 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are vowing to fight the Obama Administration’s proposed healthcare scheme:

“A secure America needs a strong military,” he said, “and whether one serves honorably for four years or 40, messing with military pay and benefits is a clear signal to the troops and their families that the budget is more important than people. That is going to seriously hurt recruiting and retention, and potentially end the all-volunteer force, because nobody wants to work for an ungrateful employer in a vocation as inherently dangerous as ours.”
The move by the Obama Administration comes on the heels of announcing it plans to gut $487 billion in Pentagon spending.
By squeezing service members and veterans out of Tricare and into ObamaCare through significantly higher Tricare premiums, the Obama Administration believes it can pinch $1.8 billion from Tricare in fiscal 2013 and $12.9 billion by 2017.
By comparison, Mr. Obama spent $20.5 billion on his Department of Energy green energy grants and loans program, 80 percent of which went to companies owned or tied to Mr. Obama’s top fundraisers.
Congressional hearings on the ObamaCare military restructuring begin next month.

Proposed TRICARE Fee Increases Target Retirees

February 15, 2012 | Terry Howell

The following Military Officers Association of America article details the White House’s proposed TRICARE fee changes and plans for future military pay rate increases through 2017.
White House to Retirees: Cough Up $13 Billion
The White House released details of its personnel and healthcare budget proposals on Monday, and they confirmed pretty much what MOAA had predicted.

All told, the TRICARE fee proposals envision shifting about $13 billion in health costs from the Pentagon to retirees over the next 5 years.
TRICARE Prime annual enrollment fees for retired families (currently $520) would rise as high as $820 starting October 1, 2012, and rise to as much as $2,048 within five years, with fees based on military retired pay amount.
TRICARE Standard will require a new TRICARE Standard annual enrollment fee ($70 for individual and $140 for familiy coverage) for working-age retirees and a slightly increased deductible ($320) starting Oct 1, with the enrollment fee and deductible rising to $250 and $580, respectively within 5 years. These would be flat fees for all Standard retirees under 65.
Retirees and family members age 65 and older would start paying an annual TRICARE For Life (TFL) enrollment fee of up to $135 per person starting this Oct. 1. This fee also would be graduated based on retired pay amount, and would rise to as much as $475 per year within 5 years.
[TRICARE] Pharmacy copays for retail and mail-order brand-name medications would more than double (from $12 to $26) starting Oct 1. Copays for non-formulary medications that currently cost $25 would also more than double, to $51, and availability would be mostly restricted to the mail-order venue, with only limited retail access. The brand-name and non-formulary copays would rise to $34 and $66, respectively, within 5 years.
View the tables showing the proposed changes and associated retirement tiers.
Under the proposal, medical (chapter 61) retirees and survivors of members who died on active duty would be exempt from these increases. When MOAA asked about other survivors, we were told they would be subject to the new fee scales. The question remains unanswered whether they would all be in the lowest tier, or whether Survivor Benefit Plan annuities might be counted in the same way as retired pay.
Also as expected, the Administration proposes a special commission responsible for recommending changes in the military retirement system for future entrants. The budget envisions that, once submitted to Congress, the proposals would have to be given a “yes or no” vote, as is done with BRAC legislation, with little debate and no opportunity for amendments.
MOAA understands that there will always be new reviews of retirement and other compensation programs, but objects strongly to subverting the normal congressional vetting process for the military retirement system that is so essential to long-term retention and readiness.
Finally, the Administration put additional details on its military pay raise proposal. It envisions no change for FY2013, when the law calls for a 1.7% pay raise to keep pace with private sector pay growth. The budget also calls for a comparability-based raise for FY2014.
But after that, it envisions abandoning the comparability standard, limiting military raises to 0.5% for FY15, 1% for FY16 and 1.5% for FY17.
MOAA believes strongly that maintaining the tie to private sector pay growth is essential. Hard experience shows that, when previous Administrations and Congresses abandoned that link for budgetary purposes, retention and readiness eventually suffered.
“These proposals are a result of last August’s Budget Control Act,” said Joint Staff Director VADM William Gortney (USN) at a briefing for association leaders.
According to DoD officials, the Budget Control Act created a requirement to cut the defense budget by $259 billion over 5 years and $487 billion over 10 years – a requirement MOAA understands all too well.
We also understand that the DoD budget must play a role in solving our nation’s debt crisis. But what we take issue with is the Pentagon’s first reaction, especially in the healthcare arena, to pass the buck to beneficiaries rather than fulfilling their own responsibilities for efficient management of military healthcare.
We have a tough fight ahead of us, but our battle now is for the hearts and minds of Congress.
Let your elected officials know how you feel about these proposed changes to the TRICARE fee structure.

Trashing Tricare

Obama to cut healthcare benefits for active duty and retired US military
BY: -
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.
Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.
Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.
“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”
Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.
Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.
The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.
“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”
A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.
“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”
The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.
Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to requests for comment on the Tricare increases.
The massive increases beginning next year appear timed to avoid upsetting military voters in a presidential election year, critics of the plan say.
Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.
As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.
Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.
Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare.
“It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, whether it’s commissary, PX, or healthcare, or whatever … under the rationale that if you raise your hand and sign up to serve, you earn a base set of benefits, and it should have nothing to do with your rank when you served, and how much you’re making when you retire,” the first aide said.
Military service organizations are opposing the healthcare changes and say the Pentagon is “means-testing” benefits for service personnel as if they were a social program, and not something earned with 20 or more years of military service.
Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, said the Military Coalition, 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, is fighting the proposed healthcare increases, specifically the use of mean-testing for cost increases.
“We think it’s absolutely wrong,” Beasley told the Free Beacon. “This is a breach of faith” for both the active duty and retiree communities.
Congressional hearings are set for next month.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Feb. 23 called on all military personnel and the veterans’ community to block the healthcare increases.
“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2 million-member VFW. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”
Senior Air Force leaders are expected to be asked about the health care cost increases during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year’s defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.
Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, and Tricare Standard increases must be approved, as well as some of the pharmacy fee increases, congressional aides said.
Current law limits Tricare fee increases to cost of living increases in retirement pay.

Making Military Families Pay

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On February 29, 2012 @ 12:19 am

The specter of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, now hangs over America’s fighting forces. Included in President Obama’s proposed cuts in defense spending is a call for military families and retirees to pay more for their health insurance, even as unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits remain off limits to those same increases. According to U.S. officials, the proposal is reportedly creating a “major rift” within the Pentagon. Why the change? Several congressional aides contend the move is designed to move more soldiers into the state-run health exchanges created by the healthcare bill.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” said Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
Apparently we can. Administration officials acknowledge that the switch from the current Tricare coverage to the state-run exchanges is part of an effort to trim $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017. Yet these sums are paltry when compared to the overall effort by this administration to hammer military spending, which is now slated to be reduced by $487 billion over the next ten years without the cuts engendered by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The failure of the Congressional Super Committee to reach a deal “triggered” $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that may raise that total to more than $1 trillion.
The new plan calls for a “tiered increase” in annual benefit payments based on one’s yearly retirement pay. The Pentagon expects most of the savings to be accrued by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees. The initial increase in payments ranges from 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent will be imposed, more than tripling the current payment schedules. The Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a military retiree program called Tricare for Life, which all military retirees must automatically join at age 65. Current enrollees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium. A new fee will be added on top of that premium.
There are three different tier schedules proposed for Tricare. Tier 1 retirees, with retired pay below $22,590, would see a 71 percent increase in enrollment fees over the next five years, from $520 to $893. Tier 2 retirees, drawing $22,590 to $45,178, would see their fees raised to $1,523 by 2017, nearly triple the current rate. Tier 3, retirees with annuities above $45,178, would pay $2048 by 2017, nearly four times the current fee. Individual coverage in Tiers 2 and 3 also would cost half of family coverage.
As for active duty personnel, they will be faced with increased co-payments for pharmaceuticals. Co-pays for 30 days of brand-name drugs in the retail network would rise from $12 to $34 in fiscal 2017, while co-pays for brand name at mail order, now $9 for a 90-day supply, would also reach $34 by 2017, thus eliminating any incentive to use generics instead of brand name pharmaceuticals. In addition, “third tier” drugs, as in those deemed too expensive to be on the military formulary, would no longer be available at retail outlets unless physicians deemed they were medically necessary.
The cuts reportedly have the unanimous support among “military chiefs,” with Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, calling the current fee system, little changed since 1996, “an anachronism” the military no longer can afford. He characterized the fee increases as part of the “tough choices” that must be made to reduce military spending. “I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”
An unnamed congressional aide was far less sanguine. “Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” the aide contended. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.” Another aide put the cuts in perspective as well. “We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”
The aide further noted that military cuts are already eating into equipment budgets and troop levels, cuts the Obama administration admits reduce the military’s capability to fight one major war while conducting a holding action in another conflict. “And now they are going to [the troops] again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts,” the aide said. “And it just doesn’t seem fair.”
That’s because it’s not about fairness. It’s about election-year politics. First, the increases aren’t scheduled to kick in until after the 2012 election, more than likely to avoid riling up military voters, as critic of the plan contend. And second, the double-standard of leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while raising the cost for members of the military is a transparent attempt to keep labor unions on the Democratic side of the voting ledger for the same election.
Military groups are opposing the changes, with a heightened animus aimed at the tier system, which some veteran groups characterized as “means-testing” for service personnel. Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, whose Military Coalition comprises 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, calls the proposed changes a “breach of faith.” Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2-million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), was even more direct. “There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” he contended. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”
And then there is the obvious impact on recruitment. Opponents of the proposal note that the current benefit system has played an integral part in attracting and keeping high-quality soldiers in our all-volunteer military forces–forces that will be reduced from 570,000 soldiers to roughly 490,000 over the next decade.
Adding insult to injury, a new policy that took effect in February reduces something known as “imminent danger pay.” Previously, soldiers in a “danger pay location” for any portion of a month got imminent danger pay for the entire month, which totaled $225. Now that pay is pro-rated at $7.50 per day. Thus, for example, a service member stationed 7 days of the month in Afghanistan will receive only $52.50. Exceptions will be made for troops “exposed to a hostile fire incident,” regardless of location. This change was part of the 2012 budget mandated by Congress.
Congress will also have to enact most of the proposed changes in Tricare, and hearings on the matter are scheduled for next month. Current law limits any increases in Tricare fees to cost of living increases in retirement pay.
There is little question that runaway budget deficits and a national debt of over $15 trillion require a serious re-thinking of America’s spending priorities. There is also little question the military budget contains fat that can be trimmed. Yet there is an unseemliness surrounding the idea of balancing the budget on the backs of people who have served, and continue to serve, their country. Some have paid the ultimate price, leaving members of their families to cope without them. Others have endured life-changing injuries, both physical and mental. Virtually every one of them merit the honor and respect of a nation that, more often than not, takes their sacrifices for granted.
Most Americans are well aware of the so-called “sacred cows” and their well-connected supporters that inform the budget-making process, both in the military and every other area of government. They also know the political class tends to go where resistance to cuts is either weak or least impactful at the ballot box. In short, these particular cuts make it apparent that military personnel and their benefits are considered “low-hanging fruit.”
It behooves Congress and the military brass to aim higher.

Obama To Iran Green Revolution Dissidents: Drop Dead

Posted 02/28/2012 06:54 PM ET
Mideast: During their brutally suppressed protests in 2009, Iranian freedom fighters sent the White House an urgent memo calling for help. Under Obama, America ignored it.
'So now, at this pivotal point in time, it is up to the countries of the free world to make up their mind," Iranian opposition leaders told the Obama administration in an eight-page memo in 2009. "Will they continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late, or will they reward the brave people of Iran and simultaneously advance the Western interests and world peace."
President Obama made his choice, and like so often before it was to vote "present."
The memo, written by leaders of Iran's Green Party after the summer 2009 anti-government demonstrations, was obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The document confirms GOP candidate Rick Santorum's charge that the U.S. squandered an opportunity to undermine the government established by the Ayatollah Khomeini three decades ago.
In the Arizona GOP debate last week, Santorum noted that "we did absolutely nothing to help" the Green Revolution. But "when the radicals in Egypt and the radicals in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood ... rise against either a feckless leader or a friend of ours in Egypt, the president is more than happy to help them out."
The memo refutes claims still being made by the State Department that the Green Party "did not desire financial or other support," because it "would discredit it in the eyes of the Iranian people."
The secret memo's warning that the Islamist regime "with its apocalyptic constitution will never give up the atomic bomb" also contradicts conventional wisdom that the Green movement wants a nuclear Iran.
The Obama administration is oddly proud that it does "not provide financial assistance to any political movement, party or faction in Iran." But Foundation for the Defense of Democracies scholar Michael Ledeen has argued for years that supporting Iran's real opposition can keep it from becoming the first jihadist nuclear power.
In his 2007 book "The Iranian Time Bomb," Ledeen insists there must be "an explicit declaration that the United States wants regime change in Iran." The Voice of America Persian Service could help.
As Ledeen notes, "Several Iraqi ayatollahs, including some who lived in Iran for many years, would love to do this, as would Khomeini's grandson Hossein Khomeini, who has openly criticized his grandfather's creation."
The U.S. can also provide satellite phones and laptops to students, religious leaders and others, and fund large-scale strikes and mass demonstrations to bring Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's regime down.
With Iran close to a nuclear weapon, military action may be the only option. But the Green memo is a shameful blemish for a president who could have prevented a threat to the free world of nuclear terror, but didn't.

Wyoming First, Pennsylvania Worst In Business Taxes

Posted 08:02 AM ET
An executive looking for a place to locate his company might do well to consider Wyoming. That state is the most business-friendly in the country, at least when it comes to taxes, according to a new study.
The study, released by the Tax Foundation on Wednesday, found that when all the taxes businesses pay are factored in, Wyoming's rate is less than half the national average. The state is one of three — Nevada and South Dakota are the others — that doesn't have a corporate income tax.
Pennsylvania, meanwhile, wins the dubious distinction of imposing the heaviest tax burden on its businesses, with an overall effective rate that's 45% above the national average.
The study, titled "Location Matters," looked at a range of business taxes — corporate income, sales, property, unemployment, gross receipts and others. The accounting firm KPMG collaborated on the report with the Tax Foundation.
Among the most-populated states, California ranked 34th, Texas 12th, New York 42nd, Florida 19th, and Illinois came in 45th. Ohio, which came in 5th, imposes a low-rate gross receipts tax instead of a corporate income tax.
The study also broke down tax rates faced by several different industries — ranging from call centers to R&D facilities to manufacturing. And it conducted a separate analysis factoring in state tax incentives for new firms — such as tax credits for new jobs, investments and R&D, property tax breaks, and so on.
On that score, the friendliest state for new firms was Nebraska, and the least hospitable was Hawaii, the study found.
"This report helps answer an important question for business owners: What will my company pay in taxes if I move into a state?" said Scott Hodge, the Tax Foundation's president. "Up until now, there had been no comprehensive national tax survey that could answer that question."
A separate analysis by IBD found that states imposing the lowest tax rates on both new and existing businesses produced more jobs during the economic recovery than those states with the highest tax burdens.
In fact, the five states with the lowest tax rates on both new and existing companies saw jobs climb an average 1.14% since the recession ended in June 2009. The overall low business tax states are Wyoming, Nebraska, Georgia, Ohio and Utah
In contrast, the five states with the highest business tax rates — Pennsylania, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Kansas and Rhode Island — had payrolls grow an average of just 0.75%. That's a 52% difference.
"This is exactly what you'd expect," said Richard Vedder, an economist at the University of Illinois. "Businesses respond to the price of resources, and costs are lower in states with low taxes."
By looking at a more comprehensive tax picture, the Tax Foundation says it has created a resource for state politicians trying to improve the competitiveness of their state tax laws, and for business executives looking for places to locate operations.
The study also produced some startling findings. Among them:
A new distribution center in Kansas faces an effective rate of 65.4% — the highest for any industry category in any state.
Louisiana offers so many incentives for new R&D companies that they face an effective tax rate of -10.5%.
But Louisiana doesn't extend this generosity to new distribution centers, which face a sky-high 50% tax rate.
Pennsylvania likewise makes life easy for manufacturers, offering them tax rates as low as 6.1%, among the lowest in the country.
But Pennsylvania is most unkind to other types of business, with tax rates that are the highest, or very close to the highest, for every other industry examined by the study.
Nebraska is the most tax-friendly state for new corporate headquarters, which face an effective rate of just 1.4%. But a mature corporate HQ in Nebraska pays an overall rate of 16.3%.
Hodge said he was surprised the wide variability in tax rates within a state. "When you look at a state's corporate tax rate, you'd think everybody must pay that rate," he said. "But the reality is often starkly different, because of variables in their tax systems."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dramatic Video: Palestinians Ambush Jewish Drivers with Rocks and Bricks

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 7:42am by Sharona Schwartz

Dramatic Palestinian Rock and Brick Ambushes on Jewish Drivers Caught on Video
AFP captured this photo of large rocks thrown at Israeli teacher's car
A dramatic rock and brick-wielding ambush captured on tape last week was broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10 television news (video below). Zehava Weiss, an Israeli teacher who lives in the settlement Karmei Tzur, was on the receiving end of the barrage and found herself in a scary situation on her way home from work last Tuesday.
Channel 10 reports that the rock throwers along the road to Beit Ummar in the West Bank choose their targets carefully: waiting for cars to get close enough to see if the driver is Palestinian – in which he gets a pass – or an Israeli who gets the rock and brick treatment.
Weiss, whose car was captured by an AFP photographer in the photo above, told Channel 10, “I heard them. I saw them. I saw the murder in their eyes.”
Weiss described her harrowing experience to Israeli blogger Yisrael Medad, and questioned the ethics of the news photographers:
I observed a man running across the road from right to left. I first thought that this was a soldier with a rifle and I slowed down to grasp what was happening. I then noticed dozens of people, old, young and teenagers, congregating on my right. It then became apparent that the “soldier with a rifle” was actually a photographer with a camera. He was seeking a better picture angle to snap away at what was about to happen. On my left were at least two other photographers, waiting for the action. I should emphasize that I was not the first victim and other cars had already been stoned and so these press photographers were well aware what was happening and was about to happen to me. None of them, it seems, thought to call for assistance from the police or IDF none of whom were present.
Knowing I had no choice but to continue and surely not stop for otherwise, if I had slowed down, I would have been trapped and blocked off, the only thing in my mind was to proceed home and not get caught at that crossing. It was difficult to pass through as the rocks came from a distance of just a few feet from the car, ‘zero-range’ as we say. The rioters clearly could see that the car contained two young females, defenceless. We were struck by many rocks, my view was blocked by the cracked glass and I simply concentrated on getting out of there as quickly as I could. At the time, as well as at this moment of writing, I did not fully grasp the danger of our situation.
It was only when I arrived home that I realized the entire front of the car was covered with shattered glass particles including me, the infant seat, the back seat, everything. There was also damage caused to the sides of the car. At least eight large rocks and blocks had hit my car.
Jewish settlers report that such rock attacks are a nearly daily occurrence in Judea and Samaria, but their being captured on film is rare. In September, the IDF reported a 33% increase in Palestinian stoning attacks. The Israel Police reported that 100 Palestinians were arrested for throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles only in January and February. These attacks can be deadly.
Last year, 25-year-old Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed by Palestinian rock-throwers who caused their car to overturn on a highway near the Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba. Pua Palmer, Asher’s wife and Yonatan’s mother – gave birth in January to a baby girl.
Luckily for Zehava Weiss, aware of the potential danger, she had reinforced windshields on her car, which may have saved her life.
Here is Channel 10’s report on the attack on Weiss and other motorists:

Qur’an Burning and Destructive Double Standards

Posted By Bruce Thornton On February 27, 2012 @ 12:55 am

The riots and violence in Afghanistan over some accidentally burned Qur’ans are following a script that by now is all too drearily familiar. As we have seen over the years with the riots over the Mohammed cartoons, Pope Benedict’s comments about violence in Islam, or false rumors of Qur’ans flushed down toilets, violent Muslim overreactions to slights are immediately followed by anxious apologies from American leaders. Rather than defusing the anger, however, such groveling merely encourages more contempt and violence.
So too with the current riots, which have killed 30 people, including 4 U.S. soldiers, two of them in the high-security Interior Ministry. Another seven Sunday were wounded in a grenade attack by demonstrators. This violence, moreover, has been encouraged by mullahs in mosques, teachers in madrassas, and members of parliament. Predictably, the Taliban––with whom our government is eager to talk peace––has encouraged people to “turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders.” President Obama has responded to this incitement and violence by offering his personal “sincere apologies,” professing his “deep regret,” and vowing to hold those responsible accountable. Defense Secretary Panetta and NATO commander John Allen also apologized.
But no reciprocal apology has been demanded from President Hamid Karzai for the incitement to violence on the part of government and religious leaders, or for the deaths of two of our troops at the hands of an Afghan soldier we trained and armed, and another two inside a government ministry. Newt Gingrich had the best response to this sorry spectacle: “There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the President of the United States period,” Gingrich said in Washington D.C. “It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around. This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence and oppression in their borders must come to an end.”
The administration and the military, of course, rationalize their indulgence of this double standard as motivated by “the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there,” as Obama spokesman Jay Carney put it. But as one demonstrator in Kabul said, “We don’t care about Obama’s apology. We have to protest to be responsible to our god. They are burning our Qur’an. An apology is not enough.” Most Afghans obviously agree, since rioting and killing have intensified despite apologies from our highest government and military officials. Indeed, over the past few decades, no amount of apologies for alleged “insults” to Muslims has stopped Islamists form attacking us. Nor have the good deeds benefitting Muslims, from rescuing Bosnians from genocide to liberating Libyans from Gaddafi, stopped jihadists from wanting to kill Americans for an endless list of reasons. The past decades of such incidents have shown instead that apologies are useless, and merely confirm the impression among Muslims that we are spiritually inferior, and so endorse the perverse logic that accidentally burning a book is worse than murdering our soldiers and citizens. Why else would we publicly flagellate ourselves over such “insults” even as we say nothing about the Muslim murders of Christians in Egypt and Nigeria, or the Muslim laws prescribing capital punishment for converts to Christianity, or the Muslim vandalizing and destruction of 300 churches in Cyprus, or the Muslim slow-motion extermination of Christians in lands that worshipped Christ for 6 centuries before Islam even existed?
As Gingrich pointed out, these double standards are counterproductive and have been proven over and over to make Muslims despise us rather than like us. What we refuse to accept is the intolerant chauvinism inherent in Islam, the belief that Muslims are the “best of nations” and destined to rule the world. Accepting the double standard merely confirms their superiority and our inferiority. After all, to let someone behave according to one set of principles or standards while demanding that you be subjected to others is to validate a claim of superiority that justifies the disproportionate and unjust behavior. It’s acting like a battered wife, who accepts a beat-down from her husband as justified punishment for burning his dinner. This double standard also reflects incoherent thinking, a failure to apply consistently a principle that presumably has universal validity. Hence we celebrate and practice “tolerance” at the same time we enable, ignore, excuse, and rationalize intolerance. In the West’s struggle with Islamic jihad, our doubts about the superiority of Western beliefs have coupled with this breakdown in ethical reasoning. The result is the appeasement of jihadist aggression and the confirmation of the jihadist estimation of the West’s weakness and corruption.
This record of appeasement, then, has encouraged many Muslims to demand from Westerners a hypersensitivity to Islam, all the while that Christians and Jews in Muslim countries are subjected to harassment, assault, vicious insult, and murder. In the West, respect for Muslim holy books and practices is supposed to be granted as a self-evident right beyond argument or debate. Yet Western ideals and principles, such as tolerance for different creeds, are derided, disrespected, and rejected as self-evident evils. Worse yet, we pretend that our appeasement of jihadist violence is an expression of tolerance, the liberal-democratic virtue that simply has little meaning in Islamic theology. Why would any pious Muslim “tolerate” an infidel culture that jeopardizes the eternal souls of Muslims, and that stands in the way of others’ converting to Islam? As the Ayatollah Khomeini said, “Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation.” Such confidence is reinforced when we acquiesce in a standard whereby burning a Qur’an or insulting Mohammed with a cartoon is worse than killing people.
We know why many of our leaders accept this double standard. They have bought into John Lennon’s juvenile utopia in which there is “nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” Shorn of their transcendent, non-negotiable foundations, all our beliefs are now contingent and negotiable, easily traded away for security or comfort. At the same time, multiculturalism bestows on the non-Western “other” a finely calibrated sensitivity to his culture and religion, no matter how dysfunctional or oppressive, all the while the West refuses to extend such consideration to its own. Why would it? Haven’t generations of Western intellectuals and artists told the world how corrupt and evil the West is? Haven’t they asserted, as Pascal Bruckner put it, that “every Westerner is presumed guilty until proven innocent”?
Having culturally internalized this self-loathing and lack of conviction, we are vulnerable to those who are filled with passionate intensity about the rightness of their beliefs and the payback due to us for our alleged historical sins such as colonialism or imperialism or globalization. And then we wonder why the jihadist considers us ripe for conquest, and destined to be subjected to the superior values of Islam.

University of New Mexico Occupiers’ War on Free Speech

Posted By Nonie Darwish On February 27, 2012 @ 12:40 am

Editor’s note: View Nonie Darwish’s entire University of New Mexico lecture, including its disruption, here.
In response to the resurgence of anti-Israel activities by the Arab Student Association and their left-wing anti-Israel “un-Occupy” backers, I was asked to speak at the University of New Mexico on February 23rd by the Israel Alliance group. The title of my speech was “The Dark Side Of Revolutions In The Middle East and The Implications For Israel,” which is the subtitle of my new book, “Devil We Don’t Know.”
Even though the Arab students were having an “apartheid wall” and a stop Islamophobia event on March 2nd, together with the local mosque, they urged the Israel Alliance group to dis-invite me because, as they put it, I am an Islam hater and Islamophobe. They presented them with a video of myself that was highly edited in which I spoke in a rally on the honor-killing of a woman in Florida, and I dared to blame Islamic law for the horrific murder of thousands of women annually. They did not succeed in dis-inviting me.
As I was almost half way in my presentation, I heard yelling and screaming in the back of the hall from about 8 or 10 students saying: “Mic check, Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli Apartheid,” “Genocide at the hands of the IDF,” “Islam is not a religion of violence,” “Israel is the violent nation,” “The Arab Spring is here.”
A few people from the audience went to escort them out of the hall, but they refused to leave in defiance. As I was watching from the stage where I had an elevated view, I saw an older gentlemen trying to escort a female student, who refused to move and was reading chants from a paper. As he tried to take the paper, I saw her elbow move towards the older man, and he pushed her away, but no one fell or was hurt.
The occupiers did everything to intimidate my sponsors to dis-invite me, then protested outside the hall, and when that did not work, they screamed and yelled to silence me in the middle of my lecture. Pro-Israel advocates and critics of Islam and Sharia practically no longer exist on US college campuses, which only allow anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American activities throughout the school year.
After the incident, the protesters claimed that I said that Islam is violent, when that was not the topic I discussed, nor did I make statements to that effect. I specifically started my speech by saying: “I want to emphasize that I am not hear to talk about people, groups, or to offend good and peace-loving Muslims. I am here to speak about an ideology and a legal system that is the official law in about 54 Muslim countries. I think we can all agree that in America, no ideology, secular or religious, is beyond questioning. The day America shies from freedom of speech is the day freedom ends for everyone. Most people, including myself, don’t want or care to criticize any religion, let alone the religion I was born in, in the sense that it is a personal relationship with God. But, if religion expands itself to become a one party totalitarian State with an elaborate legal system to control every aspect of the life, and that has a military institution called jihad, which violates other nations, then that religion is no longer a private matter or immune to criticism. By assuming the role of government, religion has opened itself to criticism.”
The “occupiers” accomplished their loud and dramatic confrontation, then they had the audacity to file a police report for assault by the older gentlemen, but no one has been charged so far. The local Eyewitness News KOB 4 gave a biased report that students were attacked on the campus of UNM, and a Muslim student complained she was getting a death threat. However, other media outlets were more careful in reporting the true story when public opinion quickly turned against the “occupiers.”
If the “occupiers” were truly serious about challenging my opinion, they could have waited for the Q and A after my presentation and proved me wrong. Welcome to the West Bank and Gaza culture on our university campuses.

WORKING FAMILIES PARTY (WFP) Date: 2/27/2012 10:14:48 AM

88 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Phone :718-222-3796

  • Front group for ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
  • Functions as a political party in New York State and Connecticut, running or cross-endorsing candidates for local, state, and federal office
  • Works closely with Hillary Clinton

Currently composed of some 30,000 members, the Working Families Party (WFP) is a front group for ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). WFP functions as a political party in New York State and Connecticut, promoting ACORN-friendly candidates. Unlike conventional political parties, WFP charges its members dues -- about $60 per year -- a policy characteristic of ACORN and its affiliates.

According to the party's website, WFP is a coalition founded jointly by ACORN, the Communications Workers of America, and the United Automobile Workers. However, ACORN clearly dominates the coalition. New York ACORN leader Steven Kest was the moving force in forming the party, and WFP headquarters are located at the same address as ACORN's national office, at 88 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

An outgrowth of the socialist New Party, WFP was created in 1998. According to a 2000 article by the Associated Press, its objective was (and still is) to "help push the Democratic Party toward the left." In pursuit of this goal, WFP runs radical candidates in state and local elections. Generally, WFP candidates conceal their extremism beneath a veneer of populist rhetoric, promoting bread-and-butter issues designed to appeal to union workers and other blue-collar voters, Republican and Democrat alike.

In order to gain “permanent” status on the New York state ballot, WFP needed to win a minimum of 50,000 votes in at least one political election. The fledgling party accomplished this in 1998 by cross-endorsing Democratic City Council Speaker Peter Vallone in that year's election gubernatorial race. Vallone lost the election, but his moderate Democrat politics -- which were utterly incompatible with ACORN's doctrine of militant class struggle -- helped to lure 51,325 unwitting New Yorkers into voting on the WFT line, thus qualifying the party for ballot status.

Having established itself in this surreptitious manner as a legitimate political party, WSP began seeking concessions from the major-party candidates, gaining leverage through its power to grant or deny its endorsements. Shortly after the party's launch in 1998, co-founder Bob Master said, “We are very clear that we are not abandoning the Democratic Party.” As another WFP organizer put it, the Working Families Party sought to move the Democrats “toward the progressive end of the spectrum.”

WFP benefits from a quirk of New York State (and Connecticut) election law which allows parties to "cross-endorse" candidates of other parties. Thus when Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, she ran on both the Democratic Party ticket and the Working Families Party ticket. After receiving WFP's endorsement, Hillary vowed to wage a "people's grassroots campaign." "I consider this the beginning of a partnership," she told a cheering crowd of supporters. During the campaign, Mrs. Clinton spoke at numerous WFP events, most memorably at the party's debut convention, held March 26-27, 2000 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany -- an event which the Communist newspaper People's Weekly World approvingly called "a turning point in New York politics."

"Candidates know that when they're on our line, they're committed to certain things," said Bertha Lewis, who served as WFP co-chair and New York ACORN Executive Director. Speaking days before Mrs. Clinton won her Senate seat in 2000, Lewis noted, "Hillary knows that if she wins, we're going to be knockin' on her door. She won't be able to hide."

Of the 3.4 million popular votes Mrs. Clinton received from New Yorkers in the Senate election, the Working Families Party delivered 103,000.

In the November 2000 election, WFP also cross-endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, winning 80,000 votes for him. "[T]here have been few candidates in history more supportive of our issues than Al Gore and Hillary Clinton," proclaimed WFP campaign literature.

In the 2004 election cycle, a new force entered New York politics: billionaire financier George Soros. The Soros-funded Drug Policy Alliance -- a drug legalization lobby through which Soros often funnels political contributions -- gave $81,500 to the Albany County District Attorney campaign of Democrat David Soares. Instead of donating the money directly, however, the Drug Policy Alliance laundered Soros' contribution through the Working Families Party -- an illegal act according to New York State law.

WFP expanded into Connecticut in 2004, and promised that it would soon be active in all ten states where "fusion voting" -- that is, cross-endorsement of candidates by multiple parties -- is still legal. Those states include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont.

In 2006, WFP exhorted voters to “help stop the Bush agenda and elect a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives” by supporting its “Take Back Congress” project.

In 2008, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were listed on the WFP presidential ticket as well as the Democratic Party ticket.

In 2009, WFP supported New York State's newly increased "millionaire's tax" on the income of individuals earning $500,000 or more per year. When New York billionaire Tom Golisano (whose tax liability rose to $13,000 per day as a result of the tax hike) announced that he would be moving to Florida (which has no state income tax), WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor Called Golisano's move "selfish." "It's a disgrace," said Cantor, "that this is how he pays back the state where he was presumably educated and that's been so good to him. Taxes are the price you pay for civilization."

In the fall of 2011, WFP supported the anti-capitalist movement known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS). In October of that year, the Party posted a help-wanted ad on Craig's List, whose caption read: “Make $350-650 a week 'protesting' on Wall Street." Said the ad as well: "You must be an energetic communicator, with a passion for social and economic justice."

LEO GERARD Date: 2/27/2012 10:13:21 AM


  • International president of the United Steelworkers of America
  • Has close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America
  • Participated in the chaotic 1999 anti-globalization demonstrations in Seattle
  • Chairman of the AFL-CIO's public policy committee
  • Supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement

Leo Gerard was born in Creighton Mine, Ontario in 1947. His father was a Canadian miner and union activist. After graduating from high school, Leo took a job at the Inco nickel smelter in Sudbury, Canada. He thereafter studied economics at Laurentian University but quit school in 1977 when he was just 12 credits short of graduating, and took a job as a United Steelworkers of America (USW) staff representative.

Gerard proceeded to rise through USW's ranks, first as a director of its Sixth District in Ontario (1986-1991); then as a national director for the union's Canadian operations (1991-1994); then as its international secretary-treasurer (1994-2001); and finally, on February 28, 2001, he became the union's seventh international president, succeeding the recently retired George Becker.

Nine months later, Gerard was formally elected USW president by acclamation in a union-wide vote. Lauding Gerard for his ties to the Canadian New Democratic Party (Canada's counterpart to the Democratic Socialists of America), Bob Roman of the Chicago DSA said: “The [USW] has a long tradition of militant, good mostly leadership. Now they have someone both militant and radical.”

In 1997 Gerard and three fellow USW leaders signed an ad in Democratic Left, a DSA publication, emphasizing the bond that existed between DSA and USW: "Together stronger than steel."

Gerard was one of approximately 1,400 USW members who participated in the chaotic 1999 anti-globalization demonstrations which devolved into violent riots and caused the shutdown of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle. At one point, Gerard and USW vice president Tom Conway illegally dragged two large concrete planters into an intersection near the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, where the meetings were being held, in an effort to block access to the facility.

After assuming the presidency of USW, Gerard was instrumental in the formation of the AFL-CIO's industrial union council. In February 2003 he earned a spot on the AFL-CIO's executive committee as well as its executive council. Twenty-five months later, he became chairman of the AFL-CIO's public policy committee, a position he holds to this day.

In 2005 and again in 2009, Gerard was reelected, without opposition, to four-year terms as president of USW. During his first two terms, he oversaw a significant number of USW mergers with other unions, including the 12,000-member American Flint Glass Workers Union in 2003; the 50,000-member Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada in 2004; some 3,000 former members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees in Canada in 2004; and the 1,150-member Independent Steelworkers Union in 2007. But the most significant merger -- with the 250,000-member Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union -- took place in 2005 and made USW the largest industrial union in North America.

In 2009 Gerard served as a co-chair on the board of directors of Healthcare-Now! – along with such notables as Quentin Young, Medea Benjamin, and Lucius Walker. The following year, he was a board of directors member with the Progressive States Network. In September 2011, Barack Obama appointed Gerard to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations.

In June 2011, Gerard was a guest speaker at Netroots Nation's (NN) annual conference. To view a list of other notables who have spoken at NN conferences, click here.

In the fall of 2011 Gerard, asserting that "it’s Wall Street and the banks [that are] blocking [America's economic] recovery and shipping our manufacturing abroad," openly supported the newly formed Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. In late October he urged OWS to demonstrate “more militancy,emphasizing that: "We ought to be doing more than occupying parks. We ought to start occupying bridges. We ought to start occupying the banks, places themselves." Two days later, serious violence and vandalism (much of it directed against local banks) erupted at an OWS protest in Oakland, California.

Today Gerard serves on the board of directors of the Economic Policy Institute along with such notables as Bob King, Julianne Malveaux, Robert Reich, and Richard Trumka.[1] He is also a national advisory board member with the Apollo Alliance, along with Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson Jr., and Carl Pope. And he is a board member of the Campaign for America's Future, alongside Eli Pariser and several others.

Further, Gerard sits on the advisory committee of Wellstone Action, a self-described “national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement.” Fellow committee members include Robert Borosage, Julian Bond, Heather Booth, Peter Edelman, Keith Ellison, Russ Feingold, Al Franken, Tom Harkin, John Lewis, Frances Fox Piven, Robert Reich, Mark Ritchie, Andrew Stern, and Antonio Villaraigosa.

An advocate of protectionist tariffs on imported steel, Gerard takes pride in the fact that the New York Times has called him the "No. 1 scourge of free traders." Arguing that economic "inequality ... leads to instability and violence," Gerard views labor unions as "instruments of social and economic justice" to combat the inequities of the free market.

For additional information on Leo Gerard, click here.


[1] Among EPI's more prominent former board members were Andrew Stern and Raul Yzaguirre.

GREENPEACE (GP) Date: 2/27/2012 10:12:12 AM

Ottho Heldringstraat 5
1066 AZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone :31 20 7182000

  • Most prominent group on the environmentalist Left
  • Attempted to blockade ships delivering supplies to coalition forces in Iraq
  • Leads environmentalist opposition to technological progress

Founded in 1970 as a loose assortment of Canadian anti-nuclear agitators, American expatriates, and underground journalists calling themselves the "Don't Make a Wave Committee," Greenpeace is today the most influential group of the environmental Left. Its stated mission is to "use non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and force solutions for a green and peaceful future." After a schism in the late 1970s, the various organizations originally comprising Greenpeace have today united into 41 affiliates and two main branches, Greenpeace USA and the Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International.

As their maiden act in 1970, a group of Greenpeace activists sailed to Amchitka Island, a part of the Aleutian Island chain, to disrupt an underground U.S. nuclear weapons test. They claimed that the test could trigger a powerful earthquake and a subsequent tidal wave that, as Greenpeace member Bob Hunter put it, "would slam the lips of the Pacific rim like a series of karate chops" and exact irreparable harm to the local sea otter population. The test went on as scheduled and did not produce those results.

During the ensuing years, Greenpeace conducted sustained attacks on the whaling and fishing industries, whose practices it claimed were decimating populations of those creatures. In the early 1990s, the organization turned its attention to the purported threat that chlorine posed to the world's water supplies. At the time, Greenpeace asserted that it would accept nothing less than the blanket prohibition of the element. "There are no uses of chlorine which we regard as safe," declared Greenpeace activist Joe Thornton, author of Pandora's Poison.

Strongly opposed to America's March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Greenpeace has strived to obstruct the war efforts of the U.S. and its allies. In January 2003, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior attempted to blockade a British military supply port so as to "cut the military supply chain to the war in Iraq." Greenpeace staged a nearly identical action two months later, when the Rainbow Warrior led a procession of activist-laden rafts in attempting to blockade a joint U.S.-Spanish naval base in southwestern Spain and thereby prevent an American freighter from delivering supplies to coalition forces in the Gulf. Also in March 2003, Greenpeace activists tried to block off the residence of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, citing Australia's support for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as their motivation. In the Netherlands, Greenpeace blockaded a ship transporting U.S. military equipment that the group claimed was bound for Iraq.

Greenpeace's current campaigns include the following:
  • Stop Climate Change: This initiative seeks "[t]o go from a world powered by nuclear and fossil fuels to one running on renewable energy," so as to check the rise of "[h]uman-caused climate change" and to "avert the worst effects of a warming world."

  • Save Our Seas: This campaign warns of "the crisis facing our oceans from the Azores to Antarctica."

  • Protect Ancient Forests: "These magnificent ancient forests are under threat. … in the next 10 to 20 years, the world looks set to lose thousands of species of plants and animals."

  • Eliminate Toxic Chemicals: "The production, trade, use, and release of many synthetic chemicals is now widely recognized as a global threat to human health and the environment."

  • End the Nuclear Threat: "[T]he use of nuclear power has never been 'peaceful.' … the planet is left with the legacy of nuclear waste, which will be radioactive for tens or hundreds of thousands of years."

  • Encourage Sustainable Trade: "The World Trade Organization (WTO) promotes free trade for the gain of private interests, over and above our health and the environment. … In essence, the WTO is a tool of rich and powerful countries. Poorer countries are losing out to the interests of the industrialised world."

  • Abolish Nuclear Weapons: "Only when all countries pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith can we begin putting the nuclear genie back in the bottle by banning the use and manufacture of the nuclear materials at the heart of the bomb."

  • Say No to Genetic Engineering: "These genetically modified organisms (GMO) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non-'GE' environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way."

Taking issue with Greenpeace's anti-biotech stance, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore left the organization and now laments that the group has become "dominated by leftwingers and extremists who disregard science in the pursuit of environmental purity."

According to a December 20, 2005 New York Times report, "the F.B.I. investigated possible financial ties between [Greenpeace] members and militant groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front."

Greenpeace is a member organization of the United For Peace and Justice antiwar coalition, the Win Without War antiwar coalition, and the Abolition 2000 antiwar coalition.

An expose of Greenpeace's fundraising practices carried out in 2003 by Public Interest Watch (PIW), a nonprofit watchdog group, led to a report disclosing that Greenpeace uses its Greenpeace Fund, a tax-exempt entity debarred from engaging in political advocacy and lobbying by the IRS tax code, to illegally direct funds to Greenpeace Inc., a tax-exempt organization permitted to engage in lobbying and advocacy but not to accept tax-deductible funds. PIW calculated that in 2000, $4.25 million was provided by the Greenpeace Fund in this way.

Greenpeace is heavily funded by many foundations, among which are the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund, the Columbia Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, Ted Turner's Turner Foundation. The organization has also drawn support from numerous celebrities, including singers Sting, Tom Jones, and Elton John, who have sponsored its "save the rainforest" campaigns. In 2004, Greenpeace received $15,844,752 in grants, and held net assets of $1,893,548. That same year, the Greenpeace Fund received grants totaling $6,866,534 and held net assets of $7,532,018.

VAN JONES Date: 2/27/2012 10:09:11 AM


  • Became a Communist in the aftermath of the 1992 "Rodney King riots" in Los Angeles
  • Founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996
  • Was active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER
  • Served as a board member of the Rainforest Action Network and Free Press
  • In March 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called “Green Jobs Czar.”
  • Resigned in early September 2009

Born in 1968 in rural West Tennessee, Van Jones (whose birth name was Anthony Jones) attended the University of Tennessee at Martin. As an undergraduate aspiring to a career in journalism, he founded an underground campus newspaper as well as a statewide African American newspaper. After earning his BA degree, Jones abandoned his plan to become a journalist and instead enrolled at Yale Law School, where, as an angry black separatist, he first arrived wearing combat boots and carrying a Black Panther bookbag. "If I'd been in another country, I probably would have joined some underground guerrilla sect," he reflects. "But as it was, I went on to an Ivy League law school.... I wasn't ready for Yale, and they weren't ready for me."

Though Jones contemplated dropping out of Yale, he realized that a law degree would furnish him with perceived credibility as a critic of the criminal-justice system -- which he believed was thoroughly infested with racism; thus he persevered and earned his Juris Doctorate.

During his years at Yale, Jones served as an intern with the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), which views the U.S. as an irredeemably racist nation and “champions the legal rights of people of color, poor people, immigrants and refugees, with a special commitment to African-Americans.”

Jones says he became politically radicalized in the aftermath of the deadly April 1992 Los Angeles riots which erupted shortly after four L.A. police officers who had beaten the now-infamous Rodney King were exonerated in court. “I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th,” says Jones, “and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist.”

In early May 1992, after the L.A. riots had ended, Jones was dispatched by LCCR executive director Eva Patterson to serve as a legal monitor at a nonviolent protest (against the Rodney King verdicts) in San Francisco. Local police, fearful that the event would devolve into violence, stopped the proceedings and arrested many of the participants, including all the legal monitors. Jones spent a short time in jail, and all charges against him were subsequently dropped.

Recalling his brief incarceration, Jones says: “I met all these young radical people of color. I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of.’ I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.”

After leaving Yale in 1993, Jones relocated to San Francisco, where he helped establish Bay Area Police Watch, a hotline and lawyer-referral service that began as a project of LCCR and specialized in demonizing local police. In 1996 he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which, claiming that the American criminal-justice system was infested with racism, sought to promote alternatives to incarceration. Jones headed the Baker Center from 1996 to 2007. Between 1999 and 2009, the Baker Center received more than $1 million from George Soros's Open Society Institute.

By the late 1990s, Jones was a committed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who viewed police officers as the arch-enemies of black people, and who loathed capitalism for allegedly exploiting nonwhite minorities worldwide. He became a leading member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a Bay-Area Marxist-Maoist collective that had ties to the Ella Baker Center.

Jones helped organize an October 1999 rally in Oakland, California, calling for a retrial on behalf of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal. Around 2002, Jones, who had experience as a record producer, produced (for the Ella Baker Center) an album that starred Abu Jamal. That album featured lyrics depicting America not only as a place where "terrorists are made," but also as "a piece of stolen land led by right-wing, war-hungry, oil-thirsty ... mother f***ers" who "got people of color playing servant to do that sh** for them."

In 2000 Jones campaigned aggressively against California Proposition 21, a ballot initiative that established harsher penalties for a variety of violent crimes and called for more juvenile offenders to be tried as adults. Jones' efforts incorporated a hip-hop soundtrack that aimed to attract young black men clad in such gang-style garb as puffy jackets and baggy pants, who would call attention to the alleged injustices of the so-called "prison-industrial complex." But infighting and jealousies between various factions of Jones' movement caused it ultimately to fall apart. "I saw our little movement destroyed over a lot of sh**-talking and bullsh**," said Jones.

After the demise of his anti-Prop 21 movement, Jones decided to change his political tactics. Specifically, he toned down the overt hostility and defiant rage that previously had animated his activism. "Before, we would fight anybody, any time," he said in 2005. "No concession was good enough; we never said 'Thank you.' Now, I put the issues and constituencies first. I'll work with anybody, I'll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward.... I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends."'

Added Jones: "I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists -- shudder, shudder -- who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs."

Jones' new approach was modeled on the tactics outlined by the famed radical organizer Saul Alinsky, who stressed the need for revolutionaries to mask the extremism of their objectives and to present themselves as moderates until they could gain some control over the machinery of political power. In a 2005 interview, Jones stated that he still considered himself a revolutionary, but a more effective one thanks to his revised tactics.

Just hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Jones stood in the streets of Oakland, California with his fellow STORM members to denounce the United States for having brought the disaster on itself. In October 2004 he joined a host of notable leftists in signing the 9/11 Truth Statement (signature #46), which called for a federal investigation into whether President Bush had been privy to advance knowledge of – or perhaps had colluded in – the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In the early 2000s, Jones and STORM were active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER, a front group for the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. STORM also had ties to the South African Communist Party and it revered Amilcar Cabral, the late Marxist revolutionary leader (of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands) who lauded Lenin as “the greatest champion of the national liberation of the peoples.” (In 2006 Van Jones would name his own newborn son “Cabral” -- in Amilcar Cabral’s honor.)

During his tenure with STORM, Jones collaborated on numerous projects (including antiwar demonstrations) with local activist Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, who served as a “mentor” for members of the Ella Baker Center. Martinez was a longtime Maoist who went on to join the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), a Communist Party USA splinter group, in the early 1990s. To this day, Martinez continues to sit on the CCDS advisory board alongside such luminaries as Angela Davis, Timuel Black (who served on Barack Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign committee), and musician Pete Seeger. Martinez is also a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the parent organization of Progressives for Obama. Martinez and Van Jones together attended a “Challenging White Supremacy” workshop which advanced the theme that “all too often, the unconscious racism of white activists stands in the way of any effective, worthwhile collaboration” with blacks.

In 2005 Jones and the Ella Baker Center produced the “Social Equity Track” for the United Nations’ World Environment Day celebration, a project that eventually would evolve into the Baker Center’s Green-Collar Jobs Campaign -- “a job-training and employment pipeline providing ‘green pathways out of poverty’ for low-income adults in Oakland.”

During the George W. Bush administration, Jones likened the President to "a crackhead" because of Bush's commitment to oil drilling.

Soon after attending the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007, Jones launched Green For All, a non-governmental organization "dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty." A major funder of Green for All was George Soros's Open Society Institute.

According to Jones, America is plagued by "eco-apartheid," where low-income people typically live in more polluted environments than wealthy people. In a January 2008 speech, Jones said: "The white polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people-of-color communities because they don’t have a racial justice framework."

In 2008 Jones published his first book, The Green Collar Economy, which focused on environmental and economic issues. The book received favorable reviews from such notables as Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Winona LaDuke, environmentalist Paul Hawken, and NAACP President/CEO Ben Jealous.

After the Bush administration had drawn to a close, Jones lamented that "an authoritarian sentiment [had] seized control of the reins of power in our country, burned the Constitution, enshrined torture, launched an unjust war under false premises ... turned [the American flag] into a war flag, and used it to beat and whip and lynch anybody who didn’t agree that we should be bombing people and torturing people."

Jones has served as a board member of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network; Free Press; the Apollo Alliance; Bioneers (which accepts the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Report’s warning that “[h]uman activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted”); the Social Venture Network (which aims “to build a just economy and sustainable planet”); and Julia Butterfly Hill’s “Circle of Life” environmental foundation.

Jones also co-founded Color of Change (COC), an organization that views the United States as a profoundly racist country, and whose mission is "to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone."

At a February 11, 2009 speaking engagement, Jones asserted that congressional Republicans had been able to pass some of their legislative initiatives, even without majorities in the House and Senate, because "they’re assholes."

Later that same month in Berkeley, California, Jones made clear his desire to incrementally socialize, by stealth, the U.S. economy:
"Right now we say we want to move from suicidal gray capitalism to something eco-capitalism where at least we're not fast-tracking the destruction of the whole planet. Will that be enough? No, it won't be enough. We want to go beyond the systems of exploitation and oppression altogether ... until [the green economy] becomes the engine for transforming the whole society."
In late February 2009, Jones spoke at a Washington, DC event called Power Shift ’09, which was billed as the largest-ever youth summit (attended by 12,000 young adults) on climate change. There, Jones advocated what WorldNetDaily reporter Aaron Klein said “can easily be interpreted as a communist or socialist agenda.” For example:
  • Jones said that the concept of "clean coal" was as "fictitious," "fantastical," and "ludicrous" as notions about the existence of "unicorns" and "a tooth fairy."
  • He said that the "green economy" would emphasize "gender equity," in contrast to "the pollution-based economy" wherein women "are making 70 cents to the dollar" as compared to men.
  • He said that the United States was built on land that had been "stolen" from "our Native American sisters and brothers," who had been "bullied and mistreated and shoved into all the land we didn't want, where it was all hot and windy." But under a "renewable energy" system ( i.e. the solar and wind power), he explained, Native Americans would "now own and control 80 percent of the renewable energy resources." "Give them then wealth!" he shouted. "...We owe them a debt!"
  • He said that the U.S. is "willing" to exploit immigrants who work "out in the fields with poison being sprayed on them ... because we have the wrong agricultural system," but "we don't want to give them rights, and we don't want to give them dignity, and we don't want to give them respect."
  • He said that "our sisters and brothers that are in prison right now" or who were "formerly incarcerated" ought to be among the prime beneficiaries of a green economy "that doesn't have any throw-away species,... resources,... [or] any throw-away people either."
  • He emphasized that "a clean energy revolution" would merely be the first step toward wholesale societal transformation: "[W]e gonna change the whole system! We gonna change the whole thing!"
During a February 26, 2009 lecture on energy issues in Berkeley, California, Jones, referring to the economic crisis in which the U.S. was mired at the time, sarcastically asked a questioner: "How's that capitalism working for ya this year?"

On March 10, 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called “green jobs czar”; the formal title for the position was “Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation” for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. At the time, Jones was a senior fellow with John Podesta's Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress. He described his new role with the Obama administration as that of "a community organizer inside the federal family."

In a July 2009 interview with Newsweek magazine, Jones was asked to explain exactly what a “green job” is. He replied: "Well, we still don’t have a unified definition, and that’s not unusual in a democracy. It takes a while for all the states and the federal government to come to some agreement."

Amid mounting controversy over his radical past, Jones resigned his post as "green jobs czar" on Labor Day weekend 2009, claiming that he had been victimized by "a vicious smear campaign."

Jones was later asked whether President Obama had been aware of Jones' controversial history before appointing him as green jobs czar. Jones replied: "I was fully candid, I mean, about my past, about the ideas that I explored...."

After stepping down from his administration post, Jones was offered office work space in the DC offices of the Center for American Progress (CAP). In February 2010, he officially rejoined CAP. That same month, he received the NAACP's President's Award, for achievement in public service. He also announced that he had secured a one-year assignment to teach a seminar on environmental and economic policy at Princeton University, beginning in June 2010.

In April 2010, Jones said the following about the nature of the Obama administration: "You look at the New Party, which is now the Working Families Party, the idea of a new politics -- that you could actually in this country bring together labor and civil rights and feminists, etc., and actually make a difference ... is the basic framework for what just took over the White House."
Jones serves as one of 20 advisers to the Presidential Climate Action Project (based at the University of Colorado), which makes climate-policy recommendations for the Obama White House. He has been praised for his environmental work by such notable leftists as Thomas Friedman, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, Ben Jealous, Laurie David, Gavin Newsom, Carl Pope, Tavis Smiley, Fred Krupp, and John Podesta.

During a January 19, 2011 speaking engagement at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Jones said that "in a society where there's social justice," any particular individual would be perfectly willing to trade his or her life with that of any other randomly selected person, knowing "with total confidence" that he or she would "have a roughly equal chance to have a good life."

In June 2011, Jones formally launched the American Dream Movement. He also serves, along with Gina Glantz and others, as a board of trustees member for the public-policy organization Demos.