Commentary Magazine


Topic: Minneapolis

CAIR Urges Muslims to ‘Resist’ FBI Terror Probes

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is still treated as a mainstream civil-liberties group by much of the media. Indeed, last summer, as the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque heated up, representatives of the group were regularly trotted out as the moderate and reasonable representatives of a supposedly aggrieved community. But recent activities by some of its chapters around the country are making clear that its main agenda remains rooted in its origins as a political front for an illegal group whose purpose was to raise funds for the Hamas terrorist organization. Though spokesmen for the group have been at pains to present it as opposing terrorism (though when pressed, they will never admit that, for example, attacks on Israelis should be considered acts of terror) and promoting cooperation with law-enforcement agencies, the truth is that its goal is quite the opposite.

Terror expert Steven Emerson’s the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that CAIR’s California chapter is sponsoring an event on Feb. 9 in Oakland whose purpose is to counsel noncompliance with federal investigations of terrorism. Indeed, the group’s website shows a poster for the gathering that features the headline: “Build a Wall of Resistance.” The artwork shows a sinister FBI agent being faced with slammed doors. The tagline reads: “Don’t Talk to the F.B.I.”

According to Emerson, this attempt to obstruct a government probe is in response to FBI efforts to uncover a network of supporters of two terror groups: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Force of Columbia (FARC). The FBI raided the homes of “activists” in Minneapolis and Chicago who may be tied to these two known terror groups in September. The PFLP is a radical leftist Palestinian group that is opposed to peace with Israel and that has, over the years, murdered many Israelis and Americans. FARC is the quintessential narco-terrorist organization and has sought the overthrow of the democratic government of Colombia and has specialized in kidnapping with the aid of the leftist government of Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez.

You would think that if CAIR were the upstanding group of ordinary Arab- and Muslim-Americans who just wanted fair treatment under the law, as it claims to be, the last thing it should be doing is counseling its members to refuse to talk to the authorities investigating lethal criminal enterprises such as the PFLP or FARC. Nor should it be setting up a meeting whose purpose is to generate support for the 23 “activists” who are refusing to comply with subpoenas that require them to testify before grand juries about these terror groups.

Instead, CAIR’s California chapter is treating the Obama administration’s Justice Department probes into terror groups as an effort to “repress our movements for social justice and divide our communities.” CAIR’s Chicago and Michigan chapters have also blasted the federal investigation. The statement from the Chicago chapter made it clear that its opposition to the investigation was not based on alleged questions of civil liberties but rather the group’s sympathy for both the PFLP and FARC, and termed the probe an effort to repress dissent about U.S. foreign policy, leading one to conclude that CAIR’s members believe the administration is too supportive of democratic governments trying to defend themselves against violent terror groups.

This attempt to obstruct justice once again shows that CAIR’s true purpose is not to defend ordinary Americans who happen to be Muslim but instead the defense of anti-American terror organizations.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is still treated as a mainstream civil-liberties group by much of the media. Indeed, last summer, as the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque heated up, representatives of the group were regularly trotted out as the moderate and reasonable representatives of a supposedly aggrieved community. But recent activities by some of its chapters around the country are making clear that its main agenda remains rooted in its origins as a political front for an illegal group whose purpose was to raise funds for the Hamas terrorist organization. Though spokesmen for the group have been at pains to present it as opposing terrorism (though when pressed, they will never admit that, for example, attacks on Israelis should be considered acts of terror) and promoting cooperation with law-enforcement agencies, the truth is that its goal is quite the opposite.

Terror expert Steven Emerson’s the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that CAIR’s California chapter is sponsoring an event on Feb. 9 in Oakland whose purpose is to counsel noncompliance with federal investigations of terrorism. Indeed, the group’s website shows a poster for the gathering that features the headline: “Build a Wall of Resistance.” The artwork shows a sinister FBI agent being faced with slammed doors. The tagline reads: “Don’t Talk to the F.B.I.”

According to Emerson, this attempt to obstruct a government probe is in response to FBI efforts to uncover a network of supporters of two terror groups: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Force of Columbia (FARC). The FBI raided the homes of “activists” in Minneapolis and Chicago who may be tied to these two known terror groups in September. The PFLP is a radical leftist Palestinian group that is opposed to peace with Israel and that has, over the years, murdered many Israelis and Americans. FARC is the quintessential narco-terrorist organization and has sought the overthrow of the democratic government of Colombia and has specialized in kidnapping with the aid of the leftist government of Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez.

You would think that if CAIR were the upstanding group of ordinary Arab- and Muslim-Americans who just wanted fair treatment under the law, as it claims to be, the last thing it should be doing is counseling its members to refuse to talk to the authorities investigating lethal criminal enterprises such as the PFLP or FARC. Nor should it be setting up a meeting whose purpose is to generate support for the 23 “activists” who are refusing to comply with subpoenas that require them to testify before grand juries about these terror groups.

Instead, CAIR’s California chapter is treating the Obama administration’s Justice Department probes into terror groups as an effort to “repress our movements for social justice and divide our communities.” CAIR’s Chicago and Michigan chapters have also blasted the federal investigation. The statement from the Chicago chapter made it clear that its opposition to the investigation was not based on alleged questions of civil liberties but rather the group’s sympathy for both the PFLP and FARC, and termed the probe an effort to repress dissent about U.S. foreign policy, leading one to conclude that CAIR’s members believe the administration is too supportive of democratic governments trying to defend themselves against violent terror groups.

This attempt to obstruct justice once again shows that CAIR’s true purpose is not to defend ordinary Americans who happen to be Muslim but instead the defense of anti-American terror organizations.

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McCain’s Four Quarters

Although I loathe sports analogies in politics, this one seems irresistible: For John McCain, the presidential season has four quarters. He will lose the first three. Will he be able to make it up in the fourth?

The first quarter began when the Republican race became a fait accompli and the Democratic battle between Clinton and Obama got more interesting. This started in earnest soon after New Hampshire. Obama took it simply because he has been involved in a more exciting race that garnered constant media attention while McCain and the Republicans became predictable and tedious. With Obama now certain to be the Democratic nominee, the second quarter has begun. Obama has more money, a new gust of wind in his sails, and a cheerleading press corps that will boost him up all summer. Without a real issue or a heavy ad buy, McCain will find it very difficult to penetrate voters consciousness over the summer. He will lose the second quarter.

The third quarter will begin and end with the two conventions, the Democrats in late August and the Republicans in early September. The Democratic convention will be a Hollywood studio boss’s dream, what with Obama’s gorgeous family, the spectacular videos, the unity theme that has been presaged since January, the lineup of celebrities walking the convention floor, Oprah’s opening night speech. Held in Denver — the New West — it will be young, full of Camelot references, and more racially and ethnically diverse than a Benetton commercial.

The Republican Convention, by contrast, will be held in Minneapolis, during the week that the entire country is focused on what time they can leave work Thursday to start Labor Day weekend. The third quarter goes to Obama in a walk.

The fourth quarter, after the conventions, and during the fall debates, is McCain’s only chance. This will be the first time that country really sees the two candidates directly going after one another. It will be the first time McCain will feel he is on a level playing field. The narrative of the first three quarters is the young and new vs. the old and tired. McCain has to reframe the debate around ideas–on Iraq, the economy, bipartisanship, taxes, and experience. No one looks or sounds better in victory than Obama. He is a lot less attractive, as we have now seen, when he is confronted or put on defense. When the country is paying attention in October, McCain will have his chance to knock Obama on his heels.

The meaning of all this: Republicans need to gird themselves for a long summer of horrendous polls and deepening despair. Obama will keep putting points on the board through early September. It will look hopeless. Until the fourth quarter.

Although I loathe sports analogies in politics, this one seems irresistible: For John McCain, the presidential season has four quarters. He will lose the first three. Will he be able to make it up in the fourth?

The first quarter began when the Republican race became a fait accompli and the Democratic battle between Clinton and Obama got more interesting. This started in earnest soon after New Hampshire. Obama took it simply because he has been involved in a more exciting race that garnered constant media attention while McCain and the Republicans became predictable and tedious. With Obama now certain to be the Democratic nominee, the second quarter has begun. Obama has more money, a new gust of wind in his sails, and a cheerleading press corps that will boost him up all summer. Without a real issue or a heavy ad buy, McCain will find it very difficult to penetrate voters consciousness over the summer. He will lose the second quarter.

The third quarter will begin and end with the two conventions, the Democrats in late August and the Republicans in early September. The Democratic convention will be a Hollywood studio boss’s dream, what with Obama’s gorgeous family, the spectacular videos, the unity theme that has been presaged since January, the lineup of celebrities walking the convention floor, Oprah’s opening night speech. Held in Denver — the New West — it will be young, full of Camelot references, and more racially and ethnically diverse than a Benetton commercial.

The Republican Convention, by contrast, will be held in Minneapolis, during the week that the entire country is focused on what time they can leave work Thursday to start Labor Day weekend. The third quarter goes to Obama in a walk.

The fourth quarter, after the conventions, and during the fall debates, is McCain’s only chance. This will be the first time that country really sees the two candidates directly going after one another. It will be the first time McCain will feel he is on a level playing field. The narrative of the first three quarters is the young and new vs. the old and tired. McCain has to reframe the debate around ideas–on Iraq, the economy, bipartisanship, taxes, and experience. No one looks or sounds better in victory than Obama. He is a lot less attractive, as we have now seen, when he is confronted or put on defense. When the country is paying attention in October, McCain will have his chance to knock Obama on his heels.

The meaning of all this: Republicans need to gird themselves for a long summer of horrendous polls and deepening despair. Obama will keep putting points on the board through early September. It will look hopeless. Until the fourth quarter.

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Fred Thompson As Vice President?

A few hours ago, Fred Thompson withdrew from the Republican presidential race, having attempted one of the most mystifying bids for high office in modern times. He refused to enter the contest when his name was on everyone’s lips last spring. Over the summer, his undeclared bid featured the hirings and firings of several staffers who clashed with his wife, Jeri. He waited until September, building up a high degree of expectation, and then spent his first couple of weeks talking obsessively about the need for Social Security and entitlement reform — which are, I think it’s safe to say, not high on the public’s to-do list. He would go several days without campaigning, would disappear, and then would show up to debates and barely stir himself into life. Only once, in the debate in South Carolina, did he rouse himself to perform — and he did brilliantly. Then he did nothing to capitalize on his triumphant performance and finished a weak third.

Given this record, Thompson has effectively proved what skeptics have been saying all along. He didn’t want to be president. He doesn’t like running for office. He doesn’t have either a killer instinct or a ravenous hunger. And he really doesn’t have a sense of mission.
With all this in evidence, no Republican presidential nominee in his right mind would choose Thompson for his running mate. This isn’t his game or his field or his love. We won’t see Thompson with his arm raised at the nominee’s side at the Minneapolis convention.

A few hours ago, Fred Thompson withdrew from the Republican presidential race, having attempted one of the most mystifying bids for high office in modern times. He refused to enter the contest when his name was on everyone’s lips last spring. Over the summer, his undeclared bid featured the hirings and firings of several staffers who clashed with his wife, Jeri. He waited until September, building up a high degree of expectation, and then spent his first couple of weeks talking obsessively about the need for Social Security and entitlement reform — which are, I think it’s safe to say, not high on the public’s to-do list. He would go several days without campaigning, would disappear, and then would show up to debates and barely stir himself into life. Only once, in the debate in South Carolina, did he rouse himself to perform — and he did brilliantly. Then he did nothing to capitalize on his triumphant performance and finished a weak third.

Given this record, Thompson has effectively proved what skeptics have been saying all along. He didn’t want to be president. He doesn’t like running for office. He doesn’t have either a killer instinct or a ravenous hunger. And he really doesn’t have a sense of mission.
With all this in evidence, no Republican presidential nominee in his right mind would choose Thompson for his running mate. This isn’t his game or his field or his love. We won’t see Thompson with his arm raised at the nominee’s side at the Minneapolis convention.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: The No-Money Primary

With John McCain projected to win New Hampshire on the Republican side, and Mike Huckabee having won in Iowa, and Fred Thompson choosing to make a last stand in South Carolina in two weeks, and Rudy Giuliani waiting for victory in Florida in three weeks, the story is that nobody is going to have any money. McCain is broke, and this victory isn’t going to improve his financial prospects enormously. There’s no evidence Huckabee is raising lots of cash. Thompson is out of funds. My guess is that Rudy’s December was so dreadful that he’s running low.

What if they run a race without money? They will have to depend on media interviews and YouTube stunts rather than commercials. They will want to debate more. They will have to try to make news with speeches. Kind of exciting.

Only Mitt Romney, with his huge personal fortune, has the money he needs. The problem for him is that he has surely spent far more than we know already — and contrary to the blather of the last 48 hours, he evidently didn’t “close” well in New Hampshire with his new “Washington Is Broken” message. And with a cold eye, he would have to wonder whether he really has found his voice or has  learned a hard lesson. He could double down and stay in the race and outspend everybody, but rich people tend not to set matches to their wealth when the prospect of return is questionable. New Hampshire was surely his best shot in the nation.

There is no way on earth to know who is going to win this, but Romney’s two losses make it most unlikely that he will be on the podium in Minneapolis in August.

With John McCain projected to win New Hampshire on the Republican side, and Mike Huckabee having won in Iowa, and Fred Thompson choosing to make a last stand in South Carolina in two weeks, and Rudy Giuliani waiting for victory in Florida in three weeks, the story is that nobody is going to have any money. McCain is broke, and this victory isn’t going to improve his financial prospects enormously. There’s no evidence Huckabee is raising lots of cash. Thompson is out of funds. My guess is that Rudy’s December was so dreadful that he’s running low.

What if they run a race without money? They will have to depend on media interviews and YouTube stunts rather than commercials. They will want to debate more. They will have to try to make news with speeches. Kind of exciting.

Only Mitt Romney, with his huge personal fortune, has the money he needs. The problem for him is that he has surely spent far more than we know already — and contrary to the blather of the last 48 hours, he evidently didn’t “close” well in New Hampshire with his new “Washington Is Broken” message. And with a cold eye, he would have to wonder whether he really has found his voice or has  learned a hard lesson. He could double down and stay in the race and outspend everybody, but rich people tend not to set matches to their wealth when the prospect of return is questionable. New Hampshire was surely his best shot in the nation.

There is no way on earth to know who is going to win this, but Romney’s two losses make it most unlikely that he will be on the podium in Minneapolis in August.

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Keith Ellison’s Night Table

In my “Jews, Muslims, and the Democrats,” I discussed the significance of the election of Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, the first-ever Muslim member of the House of Representatives. I noted that in his campaign, Ellison had positioned himself as a moderate, and was at pains to distance himself from his extremist past, including his ties to Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. I also noted the possibility that he would continue to tack toward the political center. That possibility has not materialized. After a mere six months in office, he has been reverting to form.

Scott Johnson, who has been on this story from the beginning, both on powerline and in the Weekly Standard, has just put up two fascinating posts, The Ellison Hustle and The Truth About Keith Ellison, noting the trajectory of his views. Among other things, he calls attention to the Congressman’s recent remarks to a group called Atheists for Human Rights.

Ellison said a number of striking things at this gathering. But what stands out most is his likening of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 to a pivotal event in the history of the Third Reich:

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In my “Jews, Muslims, and the Democrats,” I discussed the significance of the election of Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, the first-ever Muslim member of the House of Representatives. I noted that in his campaign, Ellison had positioned himself as a moderate, and was at pains to distance himself from his extremist past, including his ties to Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. I also noted the possibility that he would continue to tack toward the political center. That possibility has not materialized. After a mere six months in office, he has been reverting to form.

Scott Johnson, who has been on this story from the beginning, both on powerline and in the Weekly Standard, has just put up two fascinating posts, The Ellison Hustle and The Truth About Keith Ellison, noting the trajectory of his views. Among other things, he calls attention to the Congressman’s recent remarks to a group called Atheists for Human Rights.

Ellison said a number of striking things at this gathering. But what stands out most is his likening of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 to a pivotal event in the history of the Third Reich:

It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they [the Nazis] blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box–dismiss you.

Quoting this outrageous passage, Scott Johnson points out that Ellison has here descended into “promoting the disgusting conspiracy myths of radical ‘truthers’ and extremist Muslims.”

That is exactly right. Put aside Ellison’s disingenuous denial of what he is saying even as he is saying it. The comparison of 9/11 to the Reichstag fire, with the implication that the Bush administration was behind the attack, is not something Ellison has pulled out of thin air.

Not far from Minneapolis one finds Kevin Barrett, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the organizer of a body called the Muslim, Jewish, Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth. Barrett is also the author of an essay entitled “Interpreting the Unspeakable: The Myth of 9/11,” which appeared in a book last November.

The fate of the Reichstag building is one of the essay’s major themes. “Like Bush and the neocons,” Barrett writes explicitly, “Hitler and the Nazis inaugurated their new era by destroying an architectural monument and blaming its destruction on their designated enemies.”

Nor is this the limit of Barrett’s conspiracy mongering. Click here, for instance, to find out who he thinks was really behind the “brutal slaughter of 34 Americans and the wounding of 171 others in the unprovoked Israeli attack on the unarmed USS Liberty” in June 1967.

Professor Barrett is evidently on Ellison’s reading list. What other volumes can be found on his night table?

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Power to Powerline

Powerline.com has a broad national following. But one of the things that makes it such an engaging and successful site is the way it reports on local happenings in and around Minneapolis. Today, for example, it takes apart a column about local real estate by a Star Tribune regular, whom powerline calls, in its unabashed voice, “a third-rate columnist for a second-rate newspaper.” Never mind that the issue—the size of a particular house on the shore of Minneapolis’s Lake Calhoun—is of little moment to a Brooklynite like me. Powerline manages to bring alive the mindless passions and petty resentments and politically correct politics that seem to permeate the local newspaper of record.

The point is that many of the local stories powerline brings to a national audience are not local at all. The website has been on top of the Flying Imams case from the beginning. It has introduced us to the imposition of shar’ia law in Minneapolis, with “Somali taxi drivers who refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol” and “Target cashiers who refuse to ring up pork products.” Are such things happening elsewhere in the country, one wonders, or only in the twin cities?

My own hunch, on that score, is that the only thing truly special about Minneapolis is the presence there of a small band of extraordinary guys working away in their pajamas.

To dress for success as a pundit, click here.

To dress for success as a blogger, click here.

Powerline.com has a broad national following. But one of the things that makes it such an engaging and successful site is the way it reports on local happenings in and around Minneapolis. Today, for example, it takes apart a column about local real estate by a Star Tribune regular, whom powerline calls, in its unabashed voice, “a third-rate columnist for a second-rate newspaper.” Never mind that the issue—the size of a particular house on the shore of Minneapolis’s Lake Calhoun—is of little moment to a Brooklynite like me. Powerline manages to bring alive the mindless passions and petty resentments and politically correct politics that seem to permeate the local newspaper of record.

The point is that many of the local stories powerline brings to a national audience are not local at all. The website has been on top of the Flying Imams case from the beginning. It has introduced us to the imposition of shar’ia law in Minneapolis, with “Somali taxi drivers who refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol” and “Target cashiers who refuse to ring up pork products.” Are such things happening elsewhere in the country, one wonders, or only in the twin cities?

My own hunch, on that score, is that the only thing truly special about Minneapolis is the presence there of a small band of extraordinary guys working away in their pajamas.

To dress for success as a pundit, click here.

To dress for success as a blogger, click here.

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