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What we may call the "critical mind" is almost non-existent today in the Arabic speaking societies. This is largely due to the meager margin of democracy allowed and to the fact that top positions, in many cases, are concentrated in the hands of a few incompetent individuals whose intellectual capacities and management skills are mediocre at best. When we add to this the current proliferation of a reactionary religious culture, it is understandable that there should be a marked decrease in rationality, a lack of participation marked by extreme negativity, and a prevalence of constant and fixed ideas that cannot hope to hold up against the objective criticism that is crucial to true development. All of these factors actively hinder social mobility, resulting in a general state of incompetence that in turn leads to a decline in standards at all levels. Invariably, rational thinking takes a back seat.



What do you suppose the reaction would be in the American, Chinese, and world press if a Major General in the US Army gave an official briefing at the Pentagon and stated:“If the Chinese attack Taiwan, we will have to respond with nuclear weapons. We Americans would then have to prepare ourselves for the destruction of all our cities east of Kansas City. Of course, the Chinese will have to accept that hundreds of Chinese cities will be destroyed by us.”Can you imagine the media feeding frenzy? Can you imagine the reaction at the White House? The general would be instantly cashiered and sent to a mental hospital for psychiatric treatment, while everyone in the Administration made every possible effort to repair the damage.So why didn’t this happen when a Major General in the Red Chinese People’s Liberation Army - who is also the Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the Chinese National Defense University - said exactly this in reverse on July 15 in Beijing?



Why is special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pursuing so zealously the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, since it is all but impossible to prove that the leaker or leakers committed a crime? The Intelligence Identities Protection Act requires that the leaker have learned the identity of a "covert agent" from authorized sources. And it requires that the leak be deliberate. The law defines a "covert agent" as someone working undercover overseas, or who has done so in the last five years. Plame has been manning a desk at CIA headquarters since 1997. So why is Fitzgerald acting like Inspector Jauvert in Les Miserables? The answer may lie in a sentence Walter Pincus of the Washington Post wrote on June 12th, 2003.



It was widely noted, most passionately by the Iraqi blogger Hammorabi, that when Tony Blair reminded the House of Commons that many countries had been scourged by the terrorists in recent years, he omitted Iraq from the list. His speechwriters had Iraq in a different part of their database; Iraqis weren't victims of terrorism in the same way as Brits, Americans, Kenyans, and Indonesians. One's instinct is to let it go as an oversight, but there was another country missing from the list, and this case was somewhat less widely noted: Israel. And at this point, one is forced to do some thinking. What do these two countries have in common, that they should both be ignored in the British government's response to the London attacks?Iraq and Israel are arguably the two major victims of Islamic terrorism. Yet they did not come to Blair's mind. Or maybe they did, and maybe there was a reason they were omitted.



So many of you have asked me about an alleged Al Qaeda plan called “American Hiroshima” - the multiple detonation of nukes smuggled in to the US - that I must respond, even though some very good friends of mine for whom I have high regard have been taken in by the fellow who’s making the claim.That would be Paul L. Williams, who has been peddling this stuff for a long time. The funniest example is Williams’ claim that “documents captured in Afghanistan show that Al Qaeda had plans to assemble nuclear weapons with fissile material purchased on the black market.” A nuclear scientist friend of mine with all the requisite Pentagon security clearances could not stop laughing when I discussed this with him.“I’ve seen those documents,” he told me, “and believe it or not, they are copied from an article in a science humor magazine called The Journal of Irreproducible Results. It was entitled “How to Build an Atom Bomb,” and these Al Qaeda-Taliban idiots didn’t know it was a put-on. It’s full of physics jargon and seems impressive - but when the article instructs you to make the shock wave focusing lens out of Playdough, you’ve got to be a retard not to get the gag. Living in an Afghan cave can do that to you.”



Four months ago, on March 16, I told you about The Real Lockbox - a real fix of Social Security being devised by Republicans in Congress, superior to President Bush’s and designed to drive Democrats up a defensive tree. I then promised I would update you on its progress - and now I can report it is fast becoming legislative reality.



In a playground there is one spot that is considered a save haven for kids who get bullied. Where is this safe place? It’s the sandbox - which is in direct sight of the parents.Ever notice that? Playground sandboxes are usually situated right in front of the benches where parents congregate. Park planners apparently believe that kids who play in sandboxes need to be watched. Maybe that’s how the term ‘sandbox’ came to be applied to a safe haven in a computer - a place where programmers can experiment with techniques and applications without affecting the operating system.In the sandbox, you can unleash any application - even viruses - to see what affect it has on a computing environment. Whatever happens in the sandbox stays in the sandbox, to paraphrase a popular ad.



It was Jeane Kirkpatrick at the 1984 Republican Convention in Dallas who identified the Liberal Democrat compulsion to “blame America first.” In any confrontation between America and any other country or disaffected group, liberals could be trusted to say it was their own country’s fault. This compulsion seems to be a defining characteristic of liberals to this day, from Baghdad Jim McDermott (D-WA) to Dick Turban Durbin (D-IL) to Howard Dean and Teddy Kennedy. What’s not widely recognized is how this compulsion has infected the brains of certain conservatives.A case in point is how Pat Buchanan and his American Conservative magazine are swooning, along with the New York Times and the Liberal Media, over a new book - Dying to Win -- by a goofy University of Chicago professor named Robert Pape.



[Just after Rena Cohen wrote this on July 12, she learned of a Moslem terrorist attack in Netanya, Israel, killing two and wounding several others. Her daughter is spending the summer in Netanya and was nearby when the suicide bomber hit. Thankfully she was unhurt.]Before our horrified eyes, terrorism has just struck again in London, killing and wounding scores of innocent civilians, as terrorism always does. The pictures of bloody carnage are now becoming so familiar, from New York to London, from Jerusalem to Madrid, from Baghdad to Moscow, from Riyadh to Kashmir, from Bali to Manila. Just a few short days ago on July 4th, the American people celebrated freedom, and honored the courage of the men and women who have given so much to keep it and to protect our country. That same day, a deadly charade was being carried out in another part of the world under the banner of democracy. While Israel is pulling out of Gaza and parts of the disputed territories of the West Bank to foster peace, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its allies are preparing for the next terror war.



Let’s face the meaning of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Kelo vs. City of New London decision: We have a fascist judicial system in place of a Constitution. We no longer have a Constitution, it has ceased to exist. In justifying their abolition of private property rights, John Paul Stevens writing for the majority of Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and himself - the Fascist Five - pronounced that “Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community.”Taking him at his word, a New Hampshire businessman named Logan Darrow Clements sent a written request last week to city officials of the town of Weare, seeking their approval to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road. Such approval would entail eminent domain condemnation proceedings authorizing the seizure of the private home currently at this address. The owner of the home is Supreme Court Justice David Souter.