This year, three women won the Nobel Peace Prize: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman. Kudos to all three, but perhaps it’s time to ask Karman about Islah, the political party to which news reports say she belongs. Back in 2010, The New York Times’ Steve Erlanger did a feature on Al Eman University in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a:
This university, the size of a village, was founded in 1993 by Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a revered spiritual leader, theological adviser to Osama bin Laden and co-founder of the main Yemeni opposition party, Islah. In 2004, the United States Treasury put Mr. Zindani on a list of “specially designated global terrorists” for suspected fund-raising for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Perhaps it’s time to ask the latest Nobel Laureate about the links between the party to which she pays allegiance and Al Qaeda, and her thoughts about the late Bin Laden? Then again, even if she were to embrace the terrorist leader, it’s still par for the course when it comes to the Nobel Peace Prize.
A Washington Post story from earlier this week reports, “There is a noticeably more aggressive, confrontational President Obama roaming the country these days, selling his jobs plan and attacking Republicans for standing in the way of progress by standing up only for the rich.” That report, if anything, understates things a bit. Obama has essentially given up on his governing responsibilities (at which he has shown himself to be terribly inept) in lieu of a fierce and near constant attack on his political opponents. I have my doubts as to whether that strategy will work. But the point I want to make is a different one, which is that Obama has become the most intentionally divisive president we’ve seen in quite some time.
It’s not unusual, of course, for the policies of presidents to divide the nation. And politicians running for re-election often highlight differences. But Obama now belongs in a separate category. Each day, it seems, he and/or his supporters are seeking to divide us. The rhetoric employed by the president and his allies is meant to fan the flames of resentment, to turn Americans against one another, and to stoke up feelings of envy, grievances, and rage.
Like the rest of the Republican presidential field, Mitt Romney has gotten a pass on foreign policy throughout this campaign. In particular, the former Massachusetts governor has gotten away with inconsistent and largely incoherent statements about America’s commitment in Afghanistan. But with his most viable rivals either choosing not to run or self-destructing, his re-emergence as the clear GOP frontrunner requires him to start defining what a Romney presidency would look like on questions of security and war and peace.
In that context, Romney’s rousing speech on foreign policy at the Citadel today provided some welcome clarity about the contrast he plans to draw between his ideas and those of President Obama. Romney’s unapologetic statement of American exceptionalism and devotion to the promotion of freedom as well as his understanding of the threats facing the country from Islamism, Iran, as well as China and Russia, provides encouragement for conservatives who have been waiting to hear whether he is up to the task of being commander-in-chief.
First, the good news from the September jobs report:
The United States added a better-than-expected 103,000 new jobs to the economy last month, while the unemployment rate remained stagnant at 9.1 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.
In yet another attempt to deflect scrutiny, Russian authorities marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya by announcing new charges against old suspects. But that still isn’t fooling anyone, as the State Department acknowledges.
“While we welcome the recent arrest of suspects in her murder, justice will not be done until all those involved in the crime are identified and prosecuted,” read the statement from spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. As I wrote in April after Politkovskaya’s final book was translated into English:
A few years back, Columbia University was hit with charges of anti-Semitism, which were dropped after a somewhat dubious investigation. The latest accusations are from a Jewish student who says an academic adviser discouraged her from taking a course with a professor known for his anti-Zionist – and arguably anti-Semitic – statements in the classroom.
Apparently the charge is serious enough that the Department of Education has stepped in to investigate, reports David Fine at Tablet:
For liberals, the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street protests has been a welcome counterattack against the Tea Party movement that helped transform the political narrative of the last three years. They hope the clamor against “corporate greed” can drown out outrage about government spending and taxes and assist President’s Obama’s effort to win re-election on a soak-the-rich platform. So it’s no wonder the left-wing demonstrations have gotten encouragement from Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as garnering largely sympathetic coverage from the liberal mainstream press.
But the Democratic belief that this hodgepodge of aging hippies, youthful leftists and union thugs will turn the political tide in their favor ignores an all-too obvious truth: it is they who “own” the disastrous economy and depressing unemployment numbers. Today’s announcement the national rate of unemployment remains at 9.1 percent is a reminder the real narrative that will define the 2012 election is the one created by the statistics that paint a picture of an economy that won’t recover and may be heading for a double-dip recession. As much as the president and the Occupy Wall Street crowd may think they can blame it all on big business, the rest of America knows it is Obama who must shoulder the responsibility for the nation’s troubles.
Few events in recent years have moved me as much as the untimely death of Steve Jobs. The wall-to-wall media coverage and the multiplying testimonials suggest others share my sentiments. He was his generation’s Henry Ford or its Walt Disney: a technological innovator who built a corporation, and was not just a successful marketer but one whose marketing both embodied and drove broader social and cultural change. And like Ford and Disney, the democratic spirit of his creations was uniquely American. He was not himself as technically adept as Steve Wozniak, and he did not invent the personal computer, but he had the vision to see if they were to be truly personal, they had to be easy to use. He possessed, moreover, the drive to go out and sell, and the genius to realize that democracy of use had to be embodied in a style, a form, and a substance that preserved the magic inherent in all machines.
Jobs was the last member of the original Silicon Valley generation. Most of the companies born of that era have gone bankrupt, or been bought, sold, and absorbed so many times there is nothing much left of them. But we owe that generation a lot, and Jobs embodied it. They were hippies, geeks, and capitalists – Jobs, especially, was both the first and the last – and while it is fair to praise Ronald Reagan for embodying the American recovery in the 1980s, it was Silicon Valley that led the U.S. technological resurgence in the 1970s, and gave the U.S. an edge the U.S.S.R. could never match. Reagan’s SDI program may have made Gorbachev despair, but it was Silicon Valley that made SDI thinkable. It is facile to say the personal computer revolution Jobs embodied is simply a force for good – every tool can be misused – but if the rulers of China spend their nights worrying about what will happen when the Great Firewall fails, their worries owe as much to Jobs as to anyone else. Jobs once remarked that while technology profoundly influences life, it does not change the basic facts of life and death — but his assessment was not always so understated.
In the New York Post this morning, I write: “As we consider life in America without Steve Jobs, we might also consider just how his staggering career represents a refutation of the economic philosophy of Barack Obama.” Obama believes America’s greatness resides in its collective strength, and wants to spend $477 billion to create jobs. Steve Jobs single-handedly created something on the order of 250,000 jobs and left his company with a market cap of $351 billion.
If anyone still thinks the Palestinians seek a state that will live alongside Israel in peace, they should examine the map broadcast by the Palestinian Authority’s
official TV station the day after PA President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied for statehood at the UN. The station, as Palestinian Media Watch notes, is directly controlled by Abbas’ office. And here is its idea of statehood: a map showing all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza wrapped in a Palestinian flag, with a giant key stabbed through it.
The dual message of the flag and the key – both symbols of ownership – couldn’t be clearer: It’s all ours, and we intend to take it back. But lest anyone have doubts, there are also Arabic words alongside to explain: According to PMW’s translation, they read “expelled,” “resolve” and “right to return.”
Steve Jobs’s death has brought forth a well-deserved outpouring of enconomia hailing him for transforming the world for the better. Those tributes are entirely deserved. Who among us has not been affected by his innovations? I write those words on my Mac, I travel with a MacBook, I watch movies on my Apple TV, I listen to music on an iPod, and I am about to switch my smartphone from the Blackberry to the new iPhone 4S.
Even those who don’t use his products have felt his influence: Jobs popularized the personal computer, the mouse and graphical interface, computer-generated animation, the MP3 music player, the touchscreen smartphone, and the tablet computer. The last three–the iPod, iPhone, and iPad–have been introduced just in the past decade, and have gone on to sweep the world. Few technologists or executives have ever had so many big hits in such a short period of time.
David Gerbi returned to Libya this year after 40 years in exile to help the rebel movement overthrow Muammar Qaddafi. Libyans he worked with knew he’s Jewish and did not seem to mind—they called him the “revolutionary Jew”—but when he announced he wanted to restore Tripoli’s synagogue, an angry mob threatened him while he was there praying. He has since left the country again, fearing for his safety.
It’s a depressing story, but it isn’t surprising. Anyone who believes anti-Semitism—not opposition to Israeli policies, but outright hatred of Jews—isn’t rampant in the Arab world is kidding themselves.
On his show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh gave a moving tribute to Steve Jobs and Apple. The Apple products, Rush said, created “child-like wonderment” in him. And what impressed Rush so much about Jobs is what you would expect, if you know Rush: Jobs embodied excellence.
“I love greatness,” Limbaugh said. “I’m mesmerized by it and excited by it.” He went on to say he finds it exhilarating to meet people who are the best at what they do. This is something that transcends political ideology; as Rush says, that Jobs was a liberal didn’t matter at all.
It’s a lovely, heartfelt tribute done by the master of one craft to the master of another. You can listen to the whole thing here: