Liberals are from Mars, Conservatives are from Earth

By Robin of Berkeley

One of the things I like so much about writing for American Thinker is the comments page. Readers offer so much: tips for books to read, quotes to ponder, spiritual inspiration. And then there are times when the comments absolutely floor me.

I was shocked that readers were shocked about my previously viewing Marxism as sublime. I was astonished that readers were astonished about my young client’s freak out about styrofoam.

I realized that liberals really do live on another planet. Sometimes I feel like I’m having a Close Encounter of the Political Kind.

Conservatives can mistakenly assume that liberals think like they do, in a learned and rational way. This is an exercise in futility since liberalism is not based on logic.

To become a conservative, I’ve had to learn a whole new language, one based on reason. If conservatives want to understand the liberal mind, they should consider becoming bilingual too.

Liberals live in a stratosphere centered on emotions and magical thinking. If you’ve tried to reason with your daughter and she looks at you blankly; if your neighbor changes the subject during your compelling arguments; if your cousin says this about Obama, “I don’t know why. I just like the guy.” . . . that’s why.

After I ‘fessed up last week to once being besotted with socialism, a reader had an epiphany. He wrote that maybe liberals are just plain stupid.

I’m not going to disagree with this. There are innumerable examples from both the famous and the anonymous:

— The most illustrious of all leftists, Noam Chomsky, still maintains that the Khmer Rouge did not slaughter millions of Cambodians.

— Liberal luminaries, Annette Bening and Naomi Wolf, defend Radical Islam, including the dreaded burqua.

— After journeying to Cuba, members of the Congressional Black Caucus bragged about the stellar conditions there.

— Michael Moore thinks that the Cuban health system is to die for.

— Anita Dunn, a former special assistant to Obama, stated that Mao was one of the people she admired the most.

If these are the more informed liberals, what about Jane and Joe in the street?

— During the primary, I asked my friend Gail why she was voting for Obama. Did she know anything about his voting record or background? She responded, “No, I don’t.” When I asked her why she was voting for him, she said, “I just am.”

— Last week, I chatted with Shelley, a liberal pal who voted for Obama. I asked her what she thought of him now. She said that she thought he was doing fine, but she confessed that she wasn’t following the news.

— During the election, I told a friend, George, that I thought Obama was a socialist. George responded, “Well capitalism doesn’t work. Why not try socialism?” Dr. George has a Ph.D.

Are these folks “stupid”? I looked up the word, and my dictionary reads, “lacking intelligence or common sense.” Going by that definition, it would be hard to argue no.

Liberals are certainly capable of intelligence. They may be adept at their careers and hobbies. But the problem is that their naive and a delusional way of looking at the world impedes common sense and street smarts.

Further, when liberals take the time to tune in, they get their “information” from progressive propaganda. And they don’t question the Left’s authority.

That’s the biggest problem — not questioning the party line even though there are obvious gaps and gaffes. A big reason for this is fear.

I had a telling email exchange with a liberal friend. When I wrote that I thought Obama was a Marxist, she responded, “Don’t say that! You’re scaring me!”

Aside from intellectual laziness, the Fear Factor makes otherwise intelligent liberals stupidly fall into line. Liberals can scare easily.

Unarmed with both weapons and the basic facts, they have no way to defend themselves. Imagine a liberal and a conservative being dropped off in separate wilderness areas. How many days before the liberal would be no more? Meanwhile, weeks later, the conservative would still be going strong

Many liberals know how inadequate they are, whether at hunting their own meat or throwing a baseball. It’s generally the conservative they’ll call on to build a fence, or rewire their house, or protect their families. Without conservatives, they are rendered absolutely helpless.

This may be a hidden reason for their contempt for conservatives: they know that you can do stuff they can’t; that you can survive when they’d croak; and that you don’t need the government and they do.

Many conservative women — like the intrepid Sarah Palin — are more capable, more powerful, yes, more a “man” than some of the liberal XY specimens. And the utter shame of this makes them despise you — and want to render you helpless too.

That’s the universe I grew up in, that I lived in my whole life, until the mysterious winds of Fate swept me up and turned my life upside down. For most of my life, I was a secular ignoramus, living in and for the self. I navigated the world with the Braille of feelings; and I blindly followed the leaders.

I’ve now spent 2 years exploring a different planet entirely, the more formidable and logical and spiritual one where conservatives work and play. I’ve parked myself firmly in your world, while I write about the other one.

Frankly, I like your hemisphere better, and have settled in for good. I feel more safely ensconced with the earth beneath me and the heavens above me than I ever did in Outer Space.

A frequent AT contributor, Robin is a recovering liberal and a psychotherapist in Berkeley.

Joe Lieberman bill would strip suspects’ citizenship

New York Rep. Peter King (right) is among those Republican lawmakers who want to know whether the Pakistan-born American arrested in connection with the Times Square car bomb was read his Miranda rights. AP photo composite by POLITICO

By KASIE HUNT

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) thinks he’s found a work-around on the whole Miranda rights debate for U.S. citizens accused of terrorism: Strip their citizenship and ship them to Guantanamo.

Lieberman plans to introduce a bill that would amend a decades-old law aimed at yanking citizenship from U.S. citizens who fight for a foreign military.

“I’m now putting together legislation to amend that to [specify that] any individual American citizen who is found to be involved in a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by the Department of State, would be deprived of their citizenship rights,” Lieberman said Tuesday.

Such a law would potentially cover terror suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American citizen charged in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York City’s Times Square. He was apprehended Monday night at the city’s John F. Kennedy airport after he boarded a flight to Dubai.

“If you have joined an enemy of the United States in attacking the United States and trying to kill Americans, I think you sacrifice your rights of citizenship,” Lieberman said.

There is one exception to the existing law: Americans are allowed to serve in the Israel Defense Forces without losing their citizenship.

At a press conference Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad was questioned without a Miranda warning under the so-called public safety exception but was later read his rights and continued to speak with investigators.

In a civilian trial, a judge can toss out evidence taken from a suspect who has not been read Miranda rights.

The incident is the most serious terrorism attempt in this country since Christmas Day, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to detonate a bomb aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, was read his Miranda rights, sparking an outcry from Republicans — who argued he should have been interrogated as an enemy combatant.

Lieberman said he believes the administration should have used the recently created High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group in those interrogations.

“My feeling is that if they [HIG] make a judgment that this was a terrorist act, the person should be turned over to the military,” Lieberman said.

That’s not allowed under current law if the suspect is an American citizen, because U.S. citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. The 2006 law that outlines guidelines for the commissions authorizes them only for “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent[s].”

That didn’t stop congressional Republicans from clamoring to know whether Shahzad was read his Miranda rights and questioning whether a civilian court is the appropriate venue.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said reading Shahzad his rights was a “serious mistake.”

“I certainly would not read this individual his Miranda rights. I would not do that,” he said.

“What I was talking about was that we don’t have to Mirandize someone immediately. You don’t — before you charge them, there’s time that elapses,” McCain later clarified to POLITICO.

New York Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to know whether the Justice Department consulted with the intelligence community before it decided to hold his trial in civilian court.“I hope that Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen, but still,” King told POLITICO.

“I hope that if they did read him his rights, and if they are going for an indictment as opposed to a tribunal, that he did discuss it with the director of national intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, all the component parts of the intelligence community,” King said.

King acknowledged that Shahzad’s case is different. “It is different from the Christmas Day bombing because, one, this guy is an American citizen; it appears that most of the work was carried out here in the United States as opposed to [with] Abdulmutallab, who was flying in,” King said. “That said, before there’s a rush to indict him, I think they should make an effort to figure out what is the best venue for him.”

Lieberman also pointed to the public safety exception that allowed officials to question Shahzad — though Holder and other national security officials would not say how long that portion of the interrogation lasted.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee and a key critic of the administration’s handling of the Abdulmutallab case, declined to criticize the Justice Department’s handling of the case.

“Law enforcement and intelligence authorities continue to follow up on a number of ongoing leads,” Collins said in a statement Tuesday. “This attempted attack reminds us once again that terrorists are unrelenting in their desire to kill Americans. We cannot let down our guard and must meet this ongoing threat to our security with strength and resiliency.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36741_Page2.html#ixzz0n4GkTdEu

New York bomb case widens with Pakistan arrests

(Reuters) – A Pakistani-American accused of driving a car bomb into New York’s Times Square will be charged with an act of terrorism, U.S. authorities said on Tuesday as Pakistan arrested several relatives of the man.

Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, told authorities he acted alone in Saturday’s failed bombing, but skeptical investigators are looking into his recent trip to Pakistan, a U.S. law enforcement source said.

Shahzad, 30, was arrested late on Monday night after he was taken off an Emirates airline plane that was about to take off for Dubai. Hours later, several relatives and a friend were arrested in Pakistan.

“We have picked up a few family members” related to Shahzad, a security official in Karachi said. A friend of Shahzad was also detained.

Shahzad is from the disputed Kashmiri region but it is not known if he was affiliated with any militant group, a source familiar with the investigation said. The source asked not to be named because the issue is sensitive.

“Which group he may have belonged to and how he became radicalized, we don’t know yet,” said the source.

Although markets shrugged off the New York car bomb attempt as a one-off situation, tensions are high among investors. News that police in London closed a subway station to investigate reports of a suspect package pushed U.S. stock index futures to session lows before the market opened on Tuesday.

Shahzad was due to appear in federal court later on Tuesday and would likely be charged with an act of terrorism and the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction among other offenses, Holder said. Had the bomb detonated, many people could have died, experts said.

“He’s admitted to buying the truck, putting the devices together, putting them in the truck, leaving the truck there and leaving the scene,” the law enforcement source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s claimed to have acted alone.

SUSPECT GIVES INFORMATION

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad has provided investigators with useful information, but declined to discuss specifics at a news conference in Washington.

“It is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country,” Holder said. “If successful it could have resulted in a lethal terrorist attack, causing death and destruction.”

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it was the 11th thwarted attack on New York City since September 11, 2001.

President Barack Obama said the investigation would seek to determine if the suspect in custody had any connection with foreign extremist groups.

The Taliban in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the plot though several officials voiced scepticism about the claim.

If links were found between the failed bombing and Pakistan’s Taliban, which claimed responsibility for it, Pakistan could come under renewed U.S. pressure to open risky new fronts against Islamic militants.

Shahzad and two others were arrested on board the plane after it had pulled away from the gate and was recalled, but the other two were cleared and allowed to travel, the Emirates airline said.

“Clearly the guy was on the plane and shouldn’t have been and we got very lucky,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference. However, Holder said Shahzad was being tracked and there was no danger of losing him.

Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen last year, recently visited Pakistan for about five months, returning to the United States in February, the U.S. law enforcement source said.

“Based on our collective experience it’s hard to really believe that this is something someone would do on their own. It seems hard to pull off alone. There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” the source said.

Shahzad worked for about three years as a junior financial analyst in the Norwalk, Connecticut, office of the Affinion Group, a marketing and consulting business, the company said on Tuesday. Shahzad worked there until June 2009.

Shahzad is suspected of buying a 1993 Nissan sport utility vehicle used to carry the crude bomb, made of fuel and fireworks, into Times Square as the theatre and shopping area was packed with people on a warm Saturday evening.

Authorities searched Shahzad’s home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the FBI said on Tuesday. An FBI spokeswoman did not say what authorities had found.

Saturday’s failed bombing was the second significant plot in nine months targeting New York City. An Afghan immigrant, Najibullah Zazi, has pleaded guilty to plotting a suicide bombing campaign on Manhattan’s subway system last September.

U.S. authorities disrupted that plot before Zazi and his accused accomplices were able to carry it out. Another Afghan-born man has pleaded guilty for his role in the plot.

Zazi admitted to receiving al Qaeda training in Pakistan.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Jeremy Pelofsky, Jeff Mason, JoAnne Allen and Will Dunham in Washington; and William Maclean in London; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

The Disappearing religion

by Monica Crowley

Islam? Islam? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

We awake to news that after extraordinary police work, investigators have made an arrest in the attempted car bombing of Times Square in New York. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani native-turned-naturalized-U.S.-citizen, was taken into custody late last night. He was naturalized last year, and shortly thereafter, made a trip to Peshawar, Pakistan–a hotbed of Islamic terrorist activity and recruitment.

I have read countless reports about the arrest, in newspapers and websites big and small. So far, I have not seen a single mention of his faith. Not a single reference to his being Muslim. We’re left to deduce that by his Pakistani ethnicity and name.

Political correctness has stripped us of our ability to be brutally honest about the nature of the threat we face. It’s not from a bunch of maniacal Catholics or Jews or Hindus or Buddhists. The lethal threat is coming from radical Muslims. Even after September 11, even after repeated terror attacks and attempts here and abroad, we still cannot be truthful and outspoken about it? Pathetic.

This suicidal inability to call the enemy what it is comes straight from the top: the President will not go anywhere near the words “Islam” and “terror” together. His administration has contorted itself into all kinds of politically correct gymnastics to avoid making the connection, going so far as to term acts of terror as “manmade disasters” and the fight against it as “overseas contingency operations.”

He refused to speak the truth about the motivation of Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 fellow Americans in the name of Islam, and would not make the connection with the Christmas Day bomber, Abdulmutallab. He refused to “jump to conclusions” about what propelled them to try to kill Americans (although he had no problem “jumping to conclusions” about Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police and the Arizona immigration law.)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a ridiculous statement before the arrest, suggesting it could be “someone…that doesn’t like the health care bill.”

Bloomberg’s comment was idiotic, but he’s not the Commander-in-Chief. Obama was notified of the arrest five minutes after midnight. We’ve gotten a statement from his Attorney General, but as of 8:30am ET, still no statement from the Commander-in-Chief.

Unless and until we can call the enemy and what drives him to kill us what they are—Muslims propelled by their religious belief—we cannot and will not win this war.

Did DHS pressure teen to get abortion?

SARAH J. GLOVER / Staff photographer Marisol Rivera (right), speaking with a foster mother, says she lost her job for refusing to take teen for late-term abortion.

By REGINA MEDINA
Philadelphia Daily News

A DEPARTMENT OF Human Services caseworker pressured a pregnant Mayfair teenager to undergo a late-term abortion by threatening to take away either her toddler or her unborn baby if she had the child, according to the teen’s foster mother.

The alleged strong-arm tactic happened one day after DHS learned of the pregnancy, when the girl was about 22 weeks pregnant, according to her foster mother and the girl’s social worker, Marisol Rivera.

The foster mother did not want to be identified in order to protect the girl’s identity.

The Daily News also learned that:

* DHS got a Family Court judge’s order allowing it to take the girl for an abortion, after the girl’s birth mother refused to approve the procedure.

* By the time DHS arranged for the abortion – in March – the girl was 24 weeks pregnant. She had to undergo the procedure in New Jersey because abortions in Pennsylvania are illegal at 24 weeks.

* Although it is DHS policy that a DHS worker accompany any minor who has a court-ordered medical procedure, this did not happen on the girl’s first attempt to have the abortion. That attempt failed when the clinic wouldn’t accept her Medicaid card and wanted cash, according to the foster mother. A DHS worker did accompany the girl on a later, successful, attempt.

* Rivera, the girl’s social worker, said that she was fired by Concilio, which subcontracted with DHS to provide care, after she initially refused to accompany the teen for the abortion.

“They hired me to work in child protection, not to kill children,” Rivera told the Daily News.

DHS officials said that they could not discuss the case because of medical-privacy laws. Attempts to talk to the teenager were unsuccessful.

But a source familiar with the case insisted that the girl was not coerced and that her foster mother, whose first language is Spanish, did not understand the conversation between the girl and the DHS worker, Cynthia Brown.

Brown declined to comment.

Abortions are a little-known aspect of DHS’s oversight of children in its custody.

Donald F. Schwarz, the city’s deputy mayor for Health and Opportunity, who oversees DHS, said that the agency “is supposed to take a neutral position and not supposed to be involved in the decision making” regarding an abortion.

Between September 2006 and March 31, Schwarz said, 335 minors under DHS care became pregnant. Of those, 119 resulted in abortions. Of those abortions, 54 were done by judge’s order.

Eight of the abortions were performed out of state, Schwarz said.

Although federal and state law forbid the use of federal or state money for abortions, and DHS is a recipient of state and federal aid, that money is not used to pay for abortions, Schwarz said.

He said that money only from the city budget is used to pay for the procedures.

Art Caplan, director of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said that if the foster mother’s allegations are true, the DHS worker was acting unethically.

“You can’t or shouldn’t be threatening to break up a family depending upon whether somebody gets an abortion or not,” Caplan said. “That is . . . unethical practice, it’s not even common sense.”

Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said: “If DHS’s behavior is as described, it is shameful and inexcusable. . . . Sadly, this is not surprising . . . . This kind of bungling, this is not unusual in child-welfare systems. Especially in Philadelphia.”

Short-lived joy

The pregnant teen was excited about having the baby, her foster mother said. She learned that she was carrying a boy and told her 1-year-old daughter that she was going to have a little brother. She even talked about a name for the baby.

The teen’s birth mother, who wanted to be identified only as Deborah M., also said that her daughter was excited to have a baby.

“Someone who went to go get an ultrasound, [found] out it’s a boy, they give the boy a name, that’s somebody who wants to have that baby,” Deborah M. said. “But the next thing I know, she’s going for the abortion.”

The teen’s foster mother – who is fluent in Spanish and understands basic English – said that she was present when DHS worker Brown discussed the pregnancy with the teen in the living room of her home.

The conversation occurred the day after the girl’s ultrasound, the foster mother said.

She said that Brown told the pregnant teenager that DHS would separate her children if she had the second child.

“She said that if she decided to have the infant she wasn’t going to let her have both babies, that I know [despite the language barrier],” the foster mother said. “They wouldn’t be together.”

During the conversation, Brown was “upset” and “agitated,” the foster mother said, and the teen began to cry.

In an interview conducted in Spanish, the foster mother said that she had been listening to the two from the top of the stairs, but rushed down when the teen began crying.

She asked Brown, “Is there a problem?”

“Of course, there is a problem,” the foster mother said Brown told her. “This girl is 16 years old, she’s in school, she already has a baby. Yes, there is a problem.”

By the next day, the teen was determined to get an abortion, the foster mother said.

Rivera, the girl’s social worker, said, “Ever since DHS went there [to the foster home], the only alternative that she saw was abortion.”

Deborah M., the girl’s birth mother, said that she believed the foster mother’s allegations because she’d witnessed Brown bullying her daughter once before.

Brown had discovered that the teen had not been taking her child to day care.

Brown, she said, rushed up close to the teen’s face and said, “If you don’t put your baby in day care, I’m gonna take your baby.”

Deborah M. said that she then ordered Brown out of her home, and that she left.

Caring for pregnancies

Schwarz said that when DHS is alerted to a child’s pregnancy, “the youth and her caseworker discuss the [youth’s] plans regarding her pregnancy.”

DHS offers counseling, family planning and other pregnancy-related services such as prenatal care, abortion and adoption, he said.

Rivera said that when she telephoned Brown with news that the teen was pregnant, the DHS worker was “shocked.”

“Oh, my God, but that girl has to study,” Rivera recalled Brown saying.

The teen’s birth mother and the foster mother said that they separately heard conversations between Brown and the teen where the word “abortion” was mentioned.

Both said that they heard no mention of other alternatives, they told the Daily News.

Rivera said that after the teen’s confrontation with Brown, she counseled the girl about her pregnancy, including alternatives such as adoption.

Rivera said that she and Concilio’s Family Services Supervisor, Zenaida Maravi, told the teen that she could keep both children if she carried the pregnancy to term.

The teen remained silent to their comments, Rivera said.

Getting the abortion

On March 10, the day after DHS secured the court order for the abortion, Concilio supervisor Maravi told the teen’s foster mother that she must take the girl to an abortion clinic. The foster mother, who arranged for a relative to drive them, said that she was reluctant to go, believing that the girl was too far along for the procedure.

But when they arrived at the clinic, which the foster mother could not identify, it would not accept the teen’s Medicaid card as payment, the foster mother said.

Six days later, on March 16, Brown, the DHS caseworker, took the teen to the Cherry Hill Women’s Center without alerting the pregnant teen’s foster mother or Rivera, the women said.

Rivera and the foster mother believed the clinic performed an abortion. A common procedure for late-term abortions is dilation and extraction. The procedure usually takes two or three days. On the first day, doctors inject a substance into the fetus to stop its heart as well and begin the dilation process. The woman typically goes home and returns the next day so that the fetus can be extracted.

The pregnant teen had left for school late that morning, out of character for the girl, the foster mother said. By 7 p.m., the teenager hadn’t arrived home and the foster mother called Rivera in a panic. The social worker told her to call police by 10 p.m. if she wasn’t home by then.

The girl arrived home around 8:30 p.m.

“What happened?” the foster mother asked her.

“The baby is dead,” the teen answered. The teen told her that Brown had taken her out of school to get an abortion in New Jersey.

The next day, Concilio provided a van to take the girl back to the clinic for the second day of the procedure, according to Rivera.

Rivera initially refused to accompany the teen, but when she learned that the first step of the procedure had already been performed, she relented.

“That baby had to be taken out of her,” Rivera said. “It couldn’t stay in there much longer. It was against my will, but I had no other option. Instead of one dying, two were going to die [if the procedure was not completed].”

Rivera is fired

Rivera said that when she initially refused to take the teen to the clinic, Maravi, her supervisor,threatened to fire her for insubordination.

Rivera wrote a memo to Concilio’s human-relations director complaining about the threat.

She was fired on April 14 for “deficiencies in your job performance” in a letter signed by Joanna Otero-Cruz, Concilio’s executive director.

Rivera says she believes that she was fired for complaining about her supervisor’s threat.

“The decision to terminate the life of the child had been made by another, I had nothing to do with it,” Rivera told the Daily News. “I told [Maravi] that my religious beliefs, my moral beliefs would not allow me to participate in an action like this one. And at no moment when Concilio hired me did they tell me that I would participate in that.”

Rivera and other Concilio employees said that the agency seemed wary of involvement in the teen’s late-term abortion.

At a March 12 meeting of Concilio’s foster-care staff, Maravi told the group, “Concilio will not become involved in that situation. DHS will resolve it,” Rivera said.

But the following week, two Concilio employees and a Concilio van were used to take the teen to the abortion clinic.

Maravi said she could discuss the case. Otero-Cruz did not return a phone call.

Pakistan Taliban leader threatens US cities

AFP/HO/SITE Intelligence Group – SITE Intelligence Group-issued screengrab shows Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud threatening …

by Sajjad Tarakzai

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has vowed to attack major US cities in two purported new videos released months after his reported killing in a US missile strike.

The videos emerged after an attempted car bombing in New York City, for which his faction claimed responsibility in a third video, and provided the most substantial evidence so far that he survived a barrage of US missiles.

Mehsud threatened to retaliate against the United States within a month for the killing of Islamist militant leaders, appearing in a nine-minute video allegedly made on April 4, after his supposed death in January.

“The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in the major cities,” said Mehsud, who was seen flanked by two armed and masked men in the video released by the SITE and IntelCenter monitoring groups.

The video is the first showing Mehsud since January and was issued on the heels of a claim by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan that it was behind the attempted bombing in New York’s Time Square on Saturday.

US officials believed Mehsud was likely killed in a US drone strike in northwestern Pakistan on January 14, but the Taliban denied his death and Pakistani intelligence officials said last week that he had survived.

The Islamist leader, who took over leadership of the TTP last August, poured scorn on reports of his death, describing them as an “open lie and propaganda by the kuffar (non-believers)”.

“Inshaallah (God willing) very soon in some days or a month’s time, the Muslim ummah (world) will see the fruits of most successful attacks of our fedayeen in USA,” Mehsud said.

He made similar remarks in an audio message in another TTP video Monday that was apparently recorded on April 19 and features Mehsud’s face next to a map of the United States showing multiple explosions across the country.

IntelCenter, a US-based group that monitors Islamist websites, said it believed all the TTP videos issued since the New York car bomb scare were credible.

“It is our assessment that this threat is credible and that there is a high threat of further attacks like the NYC attack during the coming days and weeks ahead,” it said.

US officials initially dismissed the TTP claim of responsibility, which also met with scepticism in Pakistan, where the faction’s capability had been seen as dented following military offensives and US drone attacks.

If the claim — made in a video broadcast on YouTube — was authenticated, it would be the first attack by the TTP against a target in the United States.

Mehsud assumed leadership of the faction, which is blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in attacks across Pakistan, after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in August 2009.

The January US missile attack was launched after Mehsud appeared in a video alongside the Jordanian double agent who blew himself up on a US base in eastern Afghanistan in December that killed seven CIA agents.

Islamabad has offered a reward of 50 million rupees (about 590,000 dollars) for information leading to the militant’s capture, dead or alive.

Mehsud, believed to be aged about 31, said the TTP would attack the United States “for having martyred many of our great Muslim leaders including Baitullah Mehsud and many respected brothers from Al-Qaeda”, SITE reported.

“Our fedayeen have penetrated the terrorist America, we will give extremely painful blows to the fanatic America.”

Mehsud, bearded and with long hair, also warned members of NATO and other allies to abandon the United States, telling them: “You will face even worse humiliation, destruction and defeat than America itself.”

A Pentagon spokesman had said last week that it was unclear if Mehsud was dead or alive, but that he was no longer running the TTP.

“I certainly have seen no evidence that the person you speak of is operational today, or is executing or exerting authority over the Pakistan Taliban as he once did,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, one of Pakistan’s most prominent experts on the tribal belt where the Taliban are holed up, dismissed the claim of the attempted New York bombing as a vain attempt at recognition.

“They have the capacity to do it in Pakistan. They can do it in Afghanistan, but I doubt they are capable of doing it in the United States,” he said.

South Park is the least of Islam’s problems: The Mohammed Image Archive displays every Mohammed portrait ever created

Parody of the Comedy Central logo by Nate Beeler

From Zombie at Pajamas Media

The television network Comedy Central has once again this month shown its cowardice and hypocrisy by censoring all images of Mohammed from Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s cartoon “South Park.”

For those with short memories, the “once again” part of that sentence refers to the previous time — back in 2006 — Stone and Parker tried to depict Mohammed on “South Park,” and had the episode censored by network executives afraid of Muslim violence.

Which only goes to show that terrorism works. Because Mohammed had already appeared, with no controversy, on a “South Park” episode called “Super Best Friends” back on on July 4, 2001. Note the exact date carefully. If that episode has been scheduled to appear three months later, it almost certainly would have been canceled or censored too. Tellingly, that original 2001 “Super Best Friends” episode has itself now been removed from Comedy Central’s site and is no longer available for reruns.

Mohammed, as he appeared in the original 2001 “Super Best Friends” South Park episode.

he difference between July, 2001 and now is that these days, Muslim extremists threaten to kill anyone who draws or displays an image of Mohammed. Actually, that’s not true: Muslims have for centuries threatened to kill anyone who draws Mohammed; it’s only that now, since 9/11, we in the West are aware of the threats. Before, the warnings and prohibitions were distant bleats which didn’t scare those few artists who even heard them. But with 9/11, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the fatwas against and attempted murders of the Danish cartoonists, and global riots over the mildest of caricatures, the atmosphere has changed: Suddenly, the threats by Muslims are widely publicized and feel quite real indeed.

What mystifies me is the Islamic fundamentalists’ unaccountable obsession with television and newspapers: It is only when Mohammed appears on a TV screen or is printed in a newspaper that the extremists go berserk. But when he appears elsewhere, such as in museums, books, or the Internet — all of which feature innumerable portraits of Mohammed on essentially a permanent basis — there is a general silence. But why? Why does it cause a cultural explosion when a simplistic drawing of Mohammed appears on a TV screen, when anybody can walk into a museum, or open a book, or simply turn on a computer, and see hundreds upon hundreds of Mohammed portraits whenever they want?

I think the answer is simple: Neither the Islamic extremists nor the general public are aware of just how commonplace and numerous Mohammed depictions really are.

Back in September of 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten started the recent wave of controversy by publishing 12 (mostly innocuous) Mohammed cartoons as a commentary on the absurd dilemma endured by a Danish author who was having difficulty finding any artist willing to illustrate his upcoming book about Mohammed. To everyone’s astonishment, the publication of the cartoons sparked worldwide outrage on the part of Muslims, who apparently thought that there were no images of Mohammed in existence, and thus these 12 Danish cartoons were breaking some kind of taboo.

Within hours of that story hitting the American media nearly five years ago, I began (out of curiosity) to poke around the Internet looking for other pictures of Mohammed, aside from the Danish cartoons. It didn’t take long before I found one, then two, five, ten, forty! On a whim, I downloaded them all and quickly posted a page on my site zombietime which I ambitiously titled: “The Mohammed Image Archive.”

And at that moment my life changed.

The page was an instant hit in the blogosphere, and by day’s end was linked far and wide. And I discovered that I was not the only one curiously poking around the Internet looking for Mohammed pictures: My in-box was quickly flooded with submissions from readers who had discovered this or that unusual Mohammed portait in some forgotten corner of the Web.

So I updated my page. And then updated it again. And again. And then I had to split it into two pages. Then three. Before long the Archive had 13 different themed sections, ranging from respectful and scholarly Islamic Depictions of Mohammed in Full to the outrageously blasphemous Extreme Mohammed, and everything in between. Updating the Archive practically became full-time job — unpaid, needless to say, since I have no ads or other income-generating widgets on my site. The page design was (and still is) minimalistic; my excuse is that the simple design helps the pictures load quickly, but the real reason is that my HTML skills are rudimentary at best.

Within a few months, the Archive had grown to become far and away the largest assemblage of Mohammed imagery anywhere in the world. And since that time, it has quadrupled in size, at least. I now find myself the curator of a global resource, mankind’s only repository of every known image of Mohammed, “the 7th-century founder of Islam” (as I carefully describe him with studious neutrality). This is the curse of perfectionism: once you start on a project like this, you can’t stop until you have every single Mohammed picture ever created, regardless of era, quality, style or intent. Several examples from the Archive’s massive collection are featured throughout this essay.
Detail of Mohammed riding his magical steed, from a miniature in the illuminated manuscript called The Apocalypse of Muhammad, written in 1436 in Herat, Afghanistan (now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).

Why do I maintain the Archive? Do I hate Islam? Am I a Muslim? Am I trying to start a war? No, no, and no. The reason is simple: The Archive is an unambiguous declaration of my devotion to the principle of free speech, and free thought. No one can tell me what I can or cannot say. The very fact that millions of people are trying to impose a ban on something is motivation enough for me to shout it from the rooftops.

I fully admit that I am no scholar. I don’t have a PhD in art history or theology. But neither am I some ignorant Internet troll. The Archive is not just a collection of gorgeous medieval Islamic paintings of Mohammed; nor is it just a compilation of the most obscene and insulting Mohammed cartoons ever drawn; nor is it just a museum of the astounding variety of both respectful and satirical Mohammed-themed images that have been created throughout the centuries; it is all those things and more. No restrictions. No censorship. That’s the whole point.

And 70% of Americans agree with me.

(I had originally planned to mention in this essay Draw Mohammed Day, an anti-censorship event dreamt up by Seattle artist Molly Norris. But after her post received massive media attention, Molly backed down and said it was all a joke, admitting her retraction was partly out of fear. Booooo! No matter. Because at the Mohammed Image Archive, every day is Draw Mohammed Day!)

The Archive’s reputation continued to grow, and links from major media portals, blogs, and other Web sites kept coming in, and I soon got what every webmaster craves: A top-ten Google search ranking for a common term. Now, if you do a Google search for the simple word “Mohammed,” the Mohammed Image Archive is the #4 result on the first page, right after Wikipedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia, and a Christian site called Bible Probe.

If you’ve ever gotten a top-five Google listing for a common word, you know what this means: A continuous uninterrupted stream of visitors, day in, day out. If you have ads, this makes you happy; if you don’t have ads, all it means is that your site is constantly burdened by excess traffic, which is one of the reasons why zombietime often is slow-loading or overwhelmed. Even on a slow-news day, people looking for Mohammed arrive by the thousands to view the Archive.

Hate Mail and Death Threats

Not all of those visitors are happy with what they encounter at the Archive. In fact, a substantial percentage of them are Muslims out looking for info about their favorite prophet, completely unaware that any pictures of Mohammed even exist, naively assuming that Islam has always banned portraits of its founder (not true), and also assuming that other societies obey Islamic laws (also not true). What happens when they first lay eyes on the Archive is a cultural collision of epic proportions that often as not causes immediate head explosion.

In the Archive I include a page called Emails From Readers on which I reprint a selection of my Archive correspondence, both pro and con. In truth, it generally runs about 10% pro and 90% con, but the page would quickly grow out of control if I posted every email I get, since I get dozens every day. And about half of those are fatwas or death threats or demands that I shut the site down immediately. It’s gotten so bad that these days I generally just hit the “Delete” button without even reading half of them; if I see a subject line that says “Remove all pictures NOW!” or “Allah throws you in hellfire,” I pretty much know what to expect. Reading death threats can get wearisome at times, I do admit.

Many people have told me, to my great surprise, that “Emails From Readers” is not just their favorite page at the Archive, but their favorite page on the entire Internet, and they re-visit it again and again because of the incongruous amalgamation of base emotions they get from reading the emails: hilarity, fear, outrage, mockery, disgust, anger, and stupefaction.